Campus & Community

Wages forum held at ARCO

2 min read

Special committee releases preliminary economic data

Public hearing at ARCO
Tom Vautin (left), associate vice president for Facilities and Environmental Services, Trevor Cox '01, president of Phillips Brooks House, Molly McOwen '02 of the Harvard Living Wage Campaign, and Richard Graham O'Donoghue '02 sit together after speaking at a public hearing at the ARCO Forum. (Staff photo by Kris Snibbe)

About 150 people turned out for the Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies’ open forum at the Kennedy School of Government’s ARCO Forum Monday (Oct. 22).

The forum, which ran from 6 to 8 p.m., was moderated by Committee Chair Lawrence Katz, professor of economics. It featured comments on the issue of wages and benefits for Harvard’s lowest-paid workers by eight invited speakers. Several members of the audience were also allowed to make comments to the 19-member committee, which was assembled on stage.

Most of the comments focused on whether Harvard should adopt a University-wide minimum wage of $10.68 per hour, with both pro and con viewpoints represented.

The forum came on the heels of the release of preliminary data by the committee, which is charged with examining the conditions of Harvard’s lowest-paid workers and reporting to Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers by Dec. 19. The data showed that a variety of factors have affected the wages of Harvard’s custodians, dining services workers, parking attendants, and security guards since 1994.

Katz indicated that the data was preliminary and did not include information on benefits, which is where the committee will now turn its attention.

“We are in the midst of educating ourselves about the actual empirical evidence,” Katz said. “We’ve devoted considerable effort at outreach. This is just the beginning of the process, we are continuing to seek input.”

The report can be found at http://www.hcecp.harvard.edu.

Earlier Monday, the Harvard Crimson reported that economics Professor Caroline Hoxby had resigned from the committee, citing a lack of openness to views opposing a living wage.

The forum was just the latest effort by the committee, created last May, to gather input from the Harvard community. The committee has met on several occasions with a variety of different people, including Harvard workers, students, and administrators. In addition, comments from the broader community can be made through the committee’s Web site.