Sodexo never submitted dining contract bid, Hogan says
Living Wage hopes message translates to whichever company is chosen
Sodexo is not being considered as the University’s next dining services provider, Patrick Hogan, the University’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, announced last Friday to a small group of students and faculty members who are a part of the Living Wage campaign.
The University’s search for a new dining services provider garnered significant attention recently after the Living Wage campaign publicly objected to Sodexo, who they claimed was being considered for the contract. The multinational French food services corporation has come under scrutiny for reclassifying workers to avoid providing health insurance under guidelines established in the Affordable Care Act.
Sodexo was never officially considered, Hogan said Friday, because the company never submitted a bid for the University contract. Hogan affirmed this earlier statement again on Wednesday.
“We put out a public request for proposals, and Sodexo did not respond, so I presume they were not interested,” he said. “Sodexo is one of just a few companies that have the capability of providing service to a university the size of U.Va. It may well be that people just presumed Sodexo was in the bid process here. That may have been what prompted all of this communication.”
The University is currently looking into two contractors, though the administration will not reveal the names of those corporations until a contract has been finalized. A committee comprised of members from the Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services Department will likely make its final recommendation to Hogan by the end of the month, he said.
The decision, Hogan added, will be based primarily upon the quality of dining and cost for University students, though additional concerns — variety of meals and facility conditions, for example — will factor into the deliberation process.
“We’re looking at things like that, first and foremost, with the students in mind,” Hogan said. “We don’t want to enter into a long-term contract with a company who’s making promises that maybe only are good for a year or two. We are looking for long-term commitments around quality, around pricing, and around maintaining the quality of our facilities.”
The University is unable to strictly impose its own policies on dining service corporations, Hogan said.
“These are national companies,” Hogan said. “We’ve had a ruling from the state attorney general on this — we cannot dictate our policies to contractors. We strive to provide, to our 15,000 employees, a really attractive benefits package, attractive wages, and so-forth, but we are not permitted to require contractors to adopt our policies.”
Sodexo has been criticized in recent years for alleged poor treatment of workers. At least eight boycotts of the dining services corporation have occurred at colleges and universities across the United States.
“We received word from union organizers that Sodexo was a front runner, and that was what got us going,” said Living Wage spokesperson Caitlin Levine, a third-year College student, said.
Although Sodexo did not put forth a bid for the contract, leaders of the Living Wage Campaign hope their core message is relayed to the corporation which is selected.
“My hope is that the University takes some responsibility in terms of working conditions and worker treatment, and that they make that a priority when they’re choosing who to contract with and when they’re determining the language that goes into the contract,” Levine said. “Regardless of who it is, we’re just trying to urge the University to hold that contractor to high standards.”