The Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 8, 1999
Feb. 8, 1999
VOL. 28, NO. 21


"Living Wage" Adopted

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The university and the Johns Hopkins Health System have agreed to increase wages for the lowest-paid Hopkins employees to at least $7.75 an hour.

The increase, to be accomplished in stages over three years, will apply to jobs now held by about 550 full-time and part-time employees in ongoing jobs in either the health system or the academic and support divisions of the university. It also affects about 450 employees of all contractors--such as housekeeping, parking and food service companies--working in those units. The total number of direct or contract employees in such jobs is nearly 24,000.

President William R. Brody announced the wage boost Feb. 2 in a meeting with students and faculty who for several years have been pressing Hopkins to adopt what they call the "Living Wage."

"I think we're all dedicated to the same objective," Brody told the group, "which is to figure out how to make sure that all Hopkins employees make enough money to support themselves and their families."

Brody said the phase-in of the new wage minimum would begin soon for some groups of employees. The university's senior vice president for administration, James T. McGill, said a complete schedule will be completed by April 15. Details of the timing and amount of increases are still being worked out with individual divisions and other units, each of which is responsible for its own budget.

"By phasing in the increase over three years, we believe the divisions can absorb the increased expense," Brody said. "We also considered the positive effect that the increased wages should have in reducing turnover and developing a more experienced work force. And we considered the positive human results of increasing wages."

The current federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour; since October 1997, the university's minimum has been $6. The "Living Wage" written into ordinances governing Baltimore city contracts is $7.70, though advocates say the actual wage necessary to sustain a family has risen since that level was established.

Brody said he will send a letter to the university community in early March expressing his commitment to a living wage.