BERKELEY (CBS SF) – The University of California’s plan to raise the minimum wage for all workers systemwide took effect Thursday, the first of three incremental raises expected to bring wages to at least $15 an hour by 2017.

The minimum wage rose to $13 an hour Thursday for all university employees hired to work 20 hours or more a week. It will be increased to $14 an hour on Oct. 1, 2016, and to $15 an hour on the same day in 2017.

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UC president Janet Napolitano announced the voluntary minimum wage increase in July, the first of its kind to be established by a public university.

Napolitano said in a statement that it’s being done to support employees and their families, an “important part of our values as a public university.”

The new minimum wage is being implemented over the course of three years to give universities time to plan and budget for the cost increase, UC officials said.

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UC officials said the bulk of funding for the increase comes from the system’s ancillary funds, such as sales in bookstores and food services, not tuition and fees or sources that support core instructional programs.

The increase will not only apply to direct university employees, but to all employees of university contractors as well.

Along with the increase, the university plans to more closely monitor contractors’ wages and working conditions. The UC opened a new phone hotline and central online system for contract workers to report complaints and violations to the Office of the President.

Audits of contractors will be conducted to guarantee they pay employees at least the new minimum wage, UC officials said, as well as to ensure compliance with various laws and policies.

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