Students ask administration to reject Sodexo’s bid for dining services contract

Living wage campaign activists reject Sodexo's health care policies


Living Wage at U.Va. presented an open letter to the Dining Services Selection committee Tuesday, urging the administration not to sign Sodexo as the University’s new dining contractor.

The group cites claims that the company deprives low-wage employees of health care benefits.

“By viewing health care as expendable, Sodexo demonstrates that it views the health of its potential workers as just as expendable,” the letter reads. “If the University accepts Sodexo’s bid, employees who fall victim to an illness or accident could also suffer financial ruin.”

Starting in 2014, Sodexo has redefined full-time employees as those who work an average of 30 hours per week in a 52-week period — rather than those who average 30 hours per week during at least six weeks each quarter, as they previously stipulated. The letter called this qualification “basically impossible” for University dining hall employees, as many do not work during the summer months.

“This change reclassified almost all of Sodexo’s employees as part-time workers,” which excludes them from receiving benefits afforded to them by the Affordable Care Act, the letter reads.

Laura Goldblatt, an English doctoral candidate and Living Wage campaign spokesperson, encouraged the University to act.

“U.Va. can send a clear message about its values by rejecting Sodexo’s bid,” she said, “and I urge the administration to do so.”

University spokesperson McGregor McCance said he could not comment on Sodexo or the bidding process.

“Because of the confidentiality of this process, I cannot offer any comments about companies that may or may not be involved in the process,” he said.

Aramark’s existing dining services contract with the University ends July 1, 2014. The new selection will require the approval of the Board of Visitors. McCance said the administration is still in the “evaluation and negotiation stage.”

William & Mary announced in early February the college would switch to Sodexo when their Aramark contract ends in June.

Living Wage hopes to follow in the footsteps of University of Vermont students, who successfully barred Sodexo from making these changes in its labor laws on their campus, Goldblatt said.

In addition to their open letter, the group also sent individual letters to University President Teresa Sullivan, Patricia Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, Executive Vice President Patrick Hogan, Chief Human Resources Officer Susan Carkeek and Provost John Simon.

Published March 25, 2014 in FP test, News

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