We have been trying to hire research staff. As everyone has heard, Spokane is getting very expensive. I was shocked to see the salary we were approved to offer, which was $31k for a research study assistant position for a candidate who has a bachelor’s and is 3 years postbacc (but had not had prior research experience). It was just about 300% the poverty level in Spokane (which is a level where benefits could even start kicking in). We were able to get up to $34k, but that’s not a lot better, and we have learned our offers are just not competitive other academic institutions.
As a point of comparison, in Cheney WA where I live, the McDonalds has a sign outside that says “$14.00/hr crew team member, including minors.” That is reiterated here on indeed.com: https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Part%20Time%20McDonalds%20Crew%20Member%20%2420%2C000&l=cheney%20wa&vjk=98d49cf9724db5d8. That means the Cheney McDonalds is hiring minors who could make a yearly salary of only 5k less** than we are offering. In Cheney. High school students. Working the line in fast food.
I agree McDonalds should finally pay people a livable wage for the hard work they do. But so should we.
And our job requires a bachelor’s degree and a lot of skill managing complex psychological surveys, data collection, protection of data integrity and confidentiality, videoconferencing, computer equipment, payments to participants.
I talked to HR and they said it would be best to go to the faculty senate to discuss changes to be made. I know this isn’t about faculty issues per se. But the thing is, if we are talking about being a land-grant institution that cares about communities, we cannot have faculty making that much more than our staff? People need a livable wage, and WSU is not offering research staff a livable wage at the current levels we keep seeing — or we have to push really really hard to get to a remotely doable wage for our staff.
**I know we also offer benefits, but people need money to pay their bills, too. Retirement and health care are important, but do not fix that fundamental issue of needing salary that can pay bills right now.
-Susan Collins, Psychology