We also recognize that there are economic limits—often the result of competing, legitimate demands for finite resources—on what can be achieved. What ethical intelligence demands is finding a balance between what we aim to achieve and what we can achieve at any particular moment, finding ways to maintain a clear vision of our ideals, and continuing to move towards realizing them as circumstances permit in the future.
In light of the above, and guided by the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Living Wage, I propose that the following steps be implemented in the 2005-2006 budget year:
1. Swarthmore College establish $10.38/hour as its minimum wage, leaving the Benefit Bank intact, which represents for full time employees the equivalent of an additional $.88/hour in compensation (summing to $11.26/hour*). The College will also add a subsidy, conditional on means-testing, to cover the costs of health insurance for partners or spouses of employees who earn up to $14/hour, based on a sliding scale, as described in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee. Swarthmore will assist all eligible employees in qualifying for participation in the CHIP program to cover the health insurance costs of their children. Employees earning between $10.38 and $14/hour who file for CHIP coverage for their children but find that such coverage is denied will be covered by the College, unless the denial results from additional family means which place them beyond the College’s eligibility range. As recommended in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Living Wage, the College will strive to have its minimum wage keep pace with inflation by making annual adjustments in the minimum wage as financial circumstances permit.
The College Budget Committee and the Faculty/Staff Benefits Committee, in conjunction with Human Resources, will be charged with reviewing, from their appropriate perspectives, the effectiveness of these measures. Such reviews, informed by the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Living Wage, will include evaluating the effectiveness of these measures in enabling our employees to meet their minimum financial needs, just as the College regularly evaluates the effectiveness of our financial aid policies in meeting student needs. These reviews will also include assessing the impact of these measures on maintaining an appropriate relationship between job requirements and the experience and qualifications of those hired. These committees will also monitor, and propose corrections to, any unintended consequences of changing the College’s compensation policy that might follow from the implementation of the above recommendations. The committees will be expected to report to the Finance Committee of the Board every three years.
The faculty also requests that the Administration set up a fund that would enable voluntary contributions to help defray the costs of the program.
The College recognizes the serious burden that child care expenses place on employees but at this point is not able to commit further resources to assist with this financial burden.
2. It is incumbent upon us as an educational community to assist all of our employees, again within the context of the competing demands of the College’s mission, to achieve their professional development goals. To this end I propose that we increase the annual funding available for staff professional development, including staff tuition reimbursement, from $20,000 to $50,000.
*11.26/hour is the $10.72 recommended by the ad hoc Committee along with the annual inflation adjustment it also recommended. Since the College’s new minimum wage will go into effect two years after the ad hoc Committee did its calculations of a living wage, we have adjusted the minimum upward for two years of inflation at 2.5% per year.