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.top
In this section:
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.
- To make recommendations to the administration concerning principles and policies that should guide the University’s employment practices for lower-paid members of UVM’s workforce in regard to wages, benefits, and other terms of employment, including access to education and training;
- To ground its consideration of principles and guidelines in a thorough examination of accurate data, both UVM-specific and comparative, regarding wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment;
- To solicit the views of interested faculty, staff, and students who wish to contribute their perspectives on these matters, and responsibly to reflect the nature and extent of these views;
- To respect the role of collective bargaining as the legally mandated means by which employers and unionized employees, through their representatives, jointly determine the specific terms and conditions of employment for represented employees.
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:
- Chair: Associate Professor Jane Knodell, Department of Economics
Ms. Karin Bell, Library Support Generalist, Bailey Howe Library
Mr. Seth Bowden, Undergraduate Student
Assistant Professor Matthew Carlson, Political Science
Mr. Patrick Brown, Director, Student Life
Professor Michael Gurdon, School of Business Administration
Vice President Thomas Gustafson, Student and Campus Life
Associate Dean Wanda Heading-Grant, College of Education and Social Services
Associate Vice President Barbara Johnson, Human Resources
Ms. Mary Lafayette, Office/Program Support Senior, Finance and Administration
Ms. Jennifer Larsen, Senior Research Technician, Department of Geology
Mr. Sam Maron, Undergraduate Student
Mr. Timothy Bilodeau, Police Officer, Police Services
Mr. Jeff Schulman, Senior Associate Athletic Directors, Athletic Department
Ms. Sarah Shackett, Undergraduate Student
Associate Professor Sondra Solomon, Department of Psychology
Ms. Carmyn Stanko, Utilities Tradesperson Special, Physical Plant
Professor Ross Thomson, Department of Economics
Ms. Valerie Esposito, Graduate Student
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.top
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).top
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.top