Thank you to everyone who participated in my AASHE webinar, Socially Sustainable: Living Wage Policies in American Higher Education, on Wednesday (Feb 21 2018), especially to AASHE for the opportunity to report some of the preliminary results from phase 1 of the Living Wage Policy Study.
While I’ve taught online graduate courses for several years, this was my first webinar – on any subject – and I enjoyed learning about the process. Special thanks to AASHE Education Programs Manager Daita Serghi who was terrific to work with and makes it look easy.
In my experience, writing and presenting material in depth helps me attain clarity about what I know and what I don’t know, and preparing for this presentation was no exception.
The webinar and presentation materials are available to AASHE members on the AASHE Campus Sustainability Hub. A video of the webinar is viewable here or click the title slide below.
Introduction to the living wage and the just wage model
The living wage is a measure of meeting basic living needs. A living wage is market-based and geographically-specific in that costs of living vary within and across the United States. A commonly used method for computing the living wage in the United Stats is the MIT Living Wage Calculator created by Amy K. Glasmeier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
However, wages are only a part of what is meant by the term just employment. Individuals are dependent upon employers, and the reliability of one’s income has an impact on whether one can live on what they are paid. Thus, policies regarding employment practices, such as scheduling, can result in employees not earning enough money to meet their basic living needs. Said another way, if one is paid a living wage per hour but only working 20 hours a week, or every other week, is can hardly be characterized as a just wage.
Introduction to the Model Just Employment Policy
The Harrison Institute for Public Law in conjunction with the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University prepared a Model Just Employment Policy and a guide to understanding its content and intent. Initially, the Model Just Employment Policy was framed as a Jesuit Just Employment Policy, and more recently (2016) as an expression of an institution’s “…connection between its Catholic faith and its moral commitment to promote a just work environment.”