Hopkins must continue to pay its employees during COVID-19 shutdown

By The Editorial Board

March 26, 2020

Hopkins is one of the most powerful institutions in Baltimore. It is the city’s largest employer: over 17,000 of its 37,000 employees are Baltimore residents. As a world-renowned university with an endowment of over $4 billion, Hopkins has the means and the responsibility of creating a more equitable economy for our city’s residents.

Yet many of the residents who work at Hopkins — as custodial staff, food service workers or security guards — do so on minimum wage. In 1999, the University adopted a living wage of $7.75 an hour for its lowest-paid employees following months of backlash from the Hopkins and Baltimore community. In 2017, employees and students held protests, demanding that Hopkins ensure that contracted workers were paid $15 an hour.

As an American university, Hopkins is not alone in paying its workers barely enough to get by, while its higher-ups rake in millions each year. That inequality could become all the more stark in these coming months. Surviving with a living wage is already difficult. Surviving with those same wages in a pandemic — or no wages at all — may be impossible.

In the past couple of weeks, the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the entire country hard, and Baltimore is no exception. Though the number of cases in Baltimore City is relatively low at the moment, the city, like most others in the U.S., has mostly shut down. Malls, schools, restaurants and attractions are closed.

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