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Basic Needs and Equitable Compensation Task Force

In this section:

What was the BNEC Task Force?

The Basic Needs and Equitable Compensation Task Force was officially created in April 2006 in response to student actions including an attempted office take over and the week long tent city held by SLAP members and supporters. There had been talk of the creation of a task force since as early as December 2005. While livable wages were being debated in the Student Government Association Senate, the administration made a number of promises about getting reports and information to SGA. None of these promises were kept. vice president of finances Michael Gower promised to compile reports on livable wages and give them to SGA by the end of the fall semester, 2005, then by the end of finals week, then by the end of winter break. SGA had not recieved anything, but was told that a committee was in the works to start in february. Every week, the administration was asked when the committee was going to be formed, and were told "soon." The committee wasn't formed until April.

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What was its charge? and who served on it?

The specific charges were as follows. This was presented in a memo from President Fogel on April 24, 2006. The full memo can be found here.

Fogel clarified to the committee that by "UVM's workforce" he only meant directly employed workers. Fogel hoped to get away with only addressing half of the workers that don't earn a livable wage on the UVM campus.

The members of the final task force were:

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What were its final recommendations?

This is the final report. Or it can be retrieved from Fogel's webpage here.

Surprise! The task force recommended that UVM should pay a livable wage to all of its workers right now! As mentioned on the livable wage page, The Task Force found a livable wage to be $12.27 an hour. This figure takes into account UVM-specific benefits including healthcare and tution remission. This number is also calculated for 2006, and will be increased by a Cost of Living Adjustment for 2007.

The task force found came to the conclusion that UVM should pay a livable wage as it is the right thing to do. It said that the livable wage principle should trump the market wage when deciding pay. It estimated the cost of bringing the 250 directly employed workers to a livable wage of less than $1 million. And also found that this was well within the means of the University. The report stated that the livable wage figure should be increased each year for cost of living, and also concluded with a recommendation that that a livable wage be extended to all contracted workers as well.

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What was President Fogel's response?

At the final November 30th, 2006 Task Force meeting Fogel gave a very roundabout "no" to livable wages. He showed a pretty graph he had drawn up and tried to argue that the new UE contract that brings the lowest wage up to $10.60 an hour made us a leader amongst our peers. He attempted to explain that being a leader was good enough and that we're poor compared to these other schools. He once again invoked benefits and how great they are here (something that the Task Force paid very close attention to when crafting their recommendation).

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What was SLAP's response?

SLAP's response is that none of our original demands were met. It's great that we're a leader amongst our peers, but workers can't eat prestige! The fact is that $10.60 is NOT a livable wage. Fogel appointed the task force to do this research, which it did, and while they were working hard, he did his own research and, surprise!, found that what we're paying is good enough! Has he spoken to any workers? Nope. Many members of the Task Force felt that they had been undermined. The entire work of the Task Force was discredited by Fogel's actions. The community agrees: UVM needs a livable wage. President Fogel, you've failed.

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