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Christian Brothers University Commits to Living Wage for Employees

MEMPHIS — Christian Brothers University (CBU) announces that the Board of Trustees of the university approved a plan at its October 28 meeting to bring all CBU employees to a living wage of $15 an hour.

“Christian Brothers University’s values are based upon the beliefs and educational philosophy of St. John Baptist de La Salle, who advocated education for the poor,” said Jack Shannon, president of CBU. “Thus, a just and living wage for our employees is in line with the philosophy that forms the very foundation of CBU, and for that reason was a priority of mine as the new president. I appreciate and applaud the Board of Trustees for making a commitment to remedy this and to make certain that all of the people who make our university work on day-to-day basis are compensated fairly and are able to comfortably support themselves and their families.”

Shannon assumed the presidency of CBU in July, following the retirement of Dr. John Smarrelli from the position he’d held for the past decade.

The plan that was approved will raise wages for those making less than $15 an hour in phased stages,

with the first increase being immediate and additional increases being added incrementally so that all employees are at $15 per hour no later than June 2021. Additionally, the University is finalizing an agreement with its external contracted services to implement a similar living wage of $15 per hour for all of their full-time employees who work on the CBU campus over the same anticipated time period.

“Thankfully, we do not currently have many full-time CBU employees being paid less than the living wage level,” Shannon added. “But we do have a number of people whom we consider to be members of our CBU family — full-time employees of our vendors who work on our campus every day — who currently fall below this living wage threshold. It is our moral responsibility to work with our partners to agree to a concrete plan and a definite timeline to address this matter, which we believe to be about equity and social justice.”

The CBU commitment follows earlier living wage announcements by Shelby County, Shelby County Schools, and the City of Memphis — all of whom are actively partnered with CBU in various endeavors, including the 800 Initiative.

“Our partnerships with the city, county, and numerous local corporations are strategies to fuel the regional economy and promote fiscal empowerment for our students, our partners, and our community,” Shannon said. “At heart, these partnered efforts are about equity and empowerment. It only makes sense that we should start that equity and empowerment with our own employees, and I am proud that CBU is making this possible.”