Campus, News

ASI student employment decreases due to COVID-19 pandemic

Long Beach State’s Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) is one of the largest employers for student employees on campus and is currently facing a labor shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASI is in charge of multiple on-campus facilities such as the University Student Union (USU), Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC), Child Development Center and 49er Shops.

Miles Nevin, ASI executive director said approximately 400 to 450 CSULB student employees are hired by ASI each school year, but a majority of them were laid off due to the pandemic.

Since many ASI-run facilities and programs have re-opened after a year of online instruction, they planned on hiring a large number of student employees.

Nevin said the organization has hired about 350 CSULB students so far.

“There has been a decline in student employees this semester, and hiring [them] to fill positions in ASI-run programs and facilities has been difficult,” he said. “If the number of students on campus is low, then it impacts our employment numbers.”

In order to prevent wage compression, ASI’s minimum wage increase was applied to each of their departments including the student assistant positions.

In January 2021, ASI facility employers with 26 or more employees’ hourly pay rate went from $13 to $14 due to a $1 wage increase, according to the 2021 to 2022 operating budget.

ASI’s operating budget also stated California’s minimum wage will increase “for the seventh time since 2014 to $15 per hour” on Jan. 1, 2022 “partly affecting these expense assumptions.”

“The majority of student employees are paid between $14 to $18 an hour,” Nevin said. “Higher positions such as graduate assistants, however, can get paid up to $22 an hour depending on the type of work they do.”

As a result of ASI’s labor shortage, some employees have been taking on additional responsibilities at facilities such as the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center,

AlecSandria Colchico, Child Development Center director said the center’s currently having trouble finding student employees.

“Our staff level is a little tight, so I’d go into the classroom and help when needed,” she said.

Colchico said the center currently does not have a cook for their infant-toddler program, so in the meantime, their preschool program’s main cook is filling in for both departments.

However, Colchico also said the center was “fortunate enough to bring back some past student assistants” to help out with the workload and “piece together what [they] have now.”

Before the pandemic, ASI did most of its recruitment for student employees through flyers and posters on campus to spread the word about open positions.

Nevin said this semester, however, the organization had social media campaigns, uploaded job posts on Indeed and had student employees spread the word about open job positions.

“Usually, we don’t have enough positions available, [but] this year it was the complete opposite,” Nevin said.

Due to the increased capacity next semester, ASI vendors are planning to re-open the USU’s Subway and El Pollo Loco. At this time, it is also currently unknown when other campus convenience stores will reopen.

“We’re expecting to see some more [food places] open [next semester], but we don’t know just yet,” Nevin said. “[ASI vendors] are going to wait and see the foot traffic on campus because those numbers will drive their sales.”

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