The Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 20, 2000
March 20, 2000
VOL. 29, NO. 28


University and SLAC Reach Agreement

Plan includes forming committee to discuss poverty in E. Baltimore

By Dennis O'Shea

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

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.

SLAC/Hopkins Agreement

1. The administrations of the Johns Hopkins Institutions commit themselves to the following principle:

The Johns Hopkins Institutions believe that all workers should be able to live in dignity and support themselves and their families, and Hopkins recognizes that compensation is critical to the well- being of such workers. The administrations of the Hopkins institutions will continue pursuing practices that are consistent with their beliefs and will annually review and report on their progress.

2. The administrations will take steps to accelerate their progress toward implementing this principle.

3. The Hopkins administrations and SLAC will work toward agreement on the formation of a committee that will be charged to discuss the causes and consequences of poverty, including compensation, particularly in East Baltimore, and to advise the Hopkins administrations on ways in which they might work toward improving the economic health of the community and its citizens.

4. Hopkins accepts SLAC's withdrawal of its demand that, as a precondition for ending the occupation, the University agree to cease its membership in the Fair Labor Association and that it join the Workers Rights Consortium.

5. By agreeing to the proposals herein, SLAC agrees to cease immediately the sit-in occupation of the Garland Hall Lobby and agrees that further demonstrations will not be conducted in Hopkins administrative and academic buildings while discussions are continuing. In turn, the Hopkins institutions agree to meet promptly with respect to the matters set forth in paragraphs 2 and 3. Participating in these meetings will be six representatives of the Hopkins administrations and six representatives of SLAC, at least four of whom will be either Hopkins faculty or Hopkins students. Furthermore, the Hopkins administrations will refrain from taking legal, disciplinary or any action against participants in the sit-in and other demonstrations that have occurred to date.

James T. McGill for the Hopkins Institutions
Julie Eisenhardt for SLAC

Date: March 16, 2000