Georgetown resumes salary increases, retirement contributions

June 16, 2021

Illustration by Deborah Han

For the first time since the pandemic began, Georgetown employees will be eligible for salary increases and receive retirement contributions from the university, Vice President of Human Resources Anthony Kinslow announced on April 29. 

All eligible staff and academic and administrative professionals (AAPs) will receive a two percent salary increase in fiscal year 2022, beginning on July 1. While these salary increases will be applied across the board, individual merit-based increases will resume next year. Faculty, meanwhile, will be eligible for salary increases through a merit-based review process this summer. 

Employees in probationary periods will only receive the increase once the period has ended, and employees “whose employment is subject to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement,” or are currently on a performance improvement plan are not eligible. 

Those employees who have collective bargaining agreements, and thus are not included in the salary increase, include maintenance workers represented by SEIU Local 1199, janitorial workers represented by SEIU 32BJ, and Aramark food service employees who are represented by UNITE HERE Local 23. Their contracts, including any salary agreements, have been honored throughout the pandemic, according to the university. 

The university will also resume contributions to the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (DCRP) in June to the same extent as before last year’s suspension for all employees, including faculty, staff, and AAPs. Employees who have worked at Georgetown for at least two years and pay three percent of their paycheck into the DCRP will receive 10 percent annually from the university, and employees who are covered under a pre-1996 plan will receive 12 percent. 

In light of an anticipated $50 million budget shortfall by the end of August 2020, the university halted all salary increases in May of 2020, including merit-based increases, and contributions to staff retirement plans through fiscal year 2021. To aid in cost-saving, Georgetown also implemented a hiring freeze, a voluntary temporary furlough program, and a voluntary salary reduction program. These measures were taken to “minimize or avoid future employment actions, such as mandatory furloughs, salary reductions and/or layoffs,” according to an email sent by Chief Operating Officer Geoff Chatas. 

Many centers at the university lost key personnel during the pandemic without positions being immediately filled. The recent retirements of Dr. Phil Meilman, former director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services; Sivagami Subbaraman, who led the LGBTQ Resource Center and Women’s Center for 12 years; and the interpersonal violence training and education specialist at Health Education Services have left gaps in the university’s support network for students. The Office of Sustainability is entirely without staff this semester, due to retirements and reassignments of its employees.

To avoid hiring new staff, the university reassigned some employees as part of the Redeploy Georgetown program, which has since ended. Staff members were allegedly instructed to carry out public health duties under threat of unpaid leave, which would disqualify workers from receiving unemployment benefits. The majority of staff members reassigned were people of color and without professional medical training.

At the same time, some exceptions were made for the hiring of certain roles at the discretion of the administration. Even in the absence of most students on campus, the university continued to staff and hire for the Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD), for instance.

“The Executive Vice Presidents and Chief Operating Officer have approved the hiring of mission-critical positions in many offices, including several within GUPD,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to the Voice. “This has been done to ensure staffing meets the needs of our campus community.”

The voluntary furlough program ended last summer, and all voluntary salary reductions will end on June 30, 2021, as most employee-based cost-saving measures come to an end. 

The freeze on salary increases alone was expected to save the university $18 million of the nearly $750 million spent yearly on employee compensation, and the freeze on retirement contributions another $47 million. In total, Georgetown could have lost over $100 million in the last year and a half. 

Paul James contributed to this report. 

Annemarie Cuccia
Annemarie is an avid Voice reader and former editor-in-chief. She hopes she left the magazine better than she found it.

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