Morgan State stops using contract staff, striking at employee inequity

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • In Maryland, Morgan State University has ended the practice of hiring contractual staff in an attempt to “address employee inequity in a profound and meaningful way” at the largest historically Black institution in the state, officials announced this week.
  • The public HBCU in Baltimore also gives certain existing contractual workers full-time status with benefits and raises its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • The conversions are “the moral thing to do,” especially given many contractual employees served on the front lines at the height of the pandemic, the university’s president, David Wilson, said in a statement. It appears to be the first institution to make such a move during the pandemic.

Dive Insight:

As have many colleges, Morgan State has long depended on contracted staff to augment its workforce in all significant areas of its operations. They are most often working within Morgan State’s physical plant and custodial services. Morgan State’s contractual workers don’t usually get healthcare benefits or paid vacation time. They are typically not subject to cost-of-living raises for state employees.

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Now, the university will provide benefits to about 60 full-time workers who have never had them. The boost to its minimum wage will benefit almost 70 employees, officials said.  Like those working under grant funding, some contractual workers will not be converted, a Morgan State spokesperson said. The university employs more than 1,960 people in total. The pay raise coincides with the state legislature hiking Maryland’s minimum wage for large employers from $10.10 to $15 per hour by 2025. The minimum wage goes up in steps and is currently at $11.75 per hour for large employers like Morgan State.

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