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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Smiles Cafe At USC Pledges To Pay Employees $15 The Hours

Smiles Cafe at the Caruso Catholic Center says it will pay its employees $15 an hour starting this fall. The owner hopes this will encourage the university to do the same. 

Owner Jesse Rubio says he will increase his employees' hourly wage to $15 an hour come fall. Smiles Cafe is a coffee shop located at the USC Caruso Catholic Center and has six employees who say the wage give them something to smile about. 

"I think is great it shows that as a small business they really appreciate the hard work that we do,” said Miles Hooper, who started working for the coffee shop a few months ago. 

"For them to increase the minimum wage is real humbling. To be honest, it is a great opportunity," said Chris Manza, another employee.

Rubio hopes his wage increase will inspire President Nikias to do the same. 

He says that the reason why they decided to increase the wage is "to let USC know as a school that it is possible to pay their employee this amount of money." 

Kris Klinger, vice president of retail at USC, said that the university has come to an agreement to raise their wages over the next five years a certain percentage based on the agreement that their union and the university discussed and came to. 

Customers at Smiles Café seem to support Rubio’s $15 wage plan.

One customer said, "I think it is very important for any employee to be compensated at a level that is considered a living wage."  

The increase at Smiles Cafe will be effective this upcoming fall.   

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