A group of student protestors who have occupied the Garland Hall lobby and reception area signed an agreement on March 16 with the Johns Hopkins Institutions and ended the sit-in.
Members of the Student-Labor Action Coalition ended their protest and said they would clean up the area and leave the administration building by 5 p.m. The Homewood campus undergraduate admissions office will resume its normal use of the lobby as its reception area.
In the agreement, Johns Hopkins formalized its previous commitment to the principle that "all workers should be able to live in dignity and support themselves and their families." It also explicitly recognized that "compensation is critical to the well-being of such workers."
Hopkins also committed to accelerating its progress "toward implementing this principle." A year ago, the university and Johns Hopkins Health System announced that all direct career employees of the institutions and all employees of on-campus contractors would be paid no less than $7.75 an hour--$2.60 more than the current federal minimum wage--by no later than July 2002. All direct employees of the institutions are now already at that level or above it, and the lowest-paid on-campus contractor employees now make $6 and will make $6.50 beginning July 1.
Hopkins also agreed to broaden future discussions by forming a committee to discuss the problem of poverty, especially in East Baltimore, where many Hopkins employees live. The committee will advise Hopkins on ways to improve the economic health of the community. Hopkins said the committee's deliberations will include discussion of compensation issues.
University President William R. Brody, who was out of town at the time of the signing, said he was pleased with the agreement and the end of the sit-in.
"Members of SLAC have continued to raise serious and important issues," Brody said.
"Hopkins has had--and still has--differences with SLAC over the specifics of how we should address those issues. But I believe that the ground on which we differ is actually much smaller than the ground on which we agree. We believe that fair compensation of these employees is an important element in their quality of life and the standard of living in our city and region.
"I believe this agreement, and the formation of a committee to seriously study innovative approaches to the problem of urban poverty, gives us the opportunity to work closely together to expand our areas of agreement and ensure that we are doing right by our work force," Brody said.
When the sit-in began, SLAC demanded that Johns Hopkins immediately agree to a "Living Wage," a periodically adjusted wage sufficient to allow every employee to support four people above the federal poverty threshold. The university and health system said they could not commit to meeting an unpredictable moving target when--especially in an era of managed care and Medicare cost constraints--they cannot accurately predict their own financial position for future years.