The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Higher standards

    There’s a lot on our minds at this time of year, for entering and returning students alike. But one thing we’re probably not thinking about is janitors. Somebody has to bear the burden of cleaning the residence halls, classrooms and toilets that constitute the context of our lives at the University. While we’re all busy enjoying the rituals of elite college life this year, the University’s janitors — mostly low-income women of color — will be working long hours for low wages under physically demanding conditions.
     Here are some numbers: University employees are guaranteed a minimum hourly wage of $9.75. While this might not sound bad, it’s well below the living wage for Charlottesville (now $11.44/hour), which means that many workers have to choose between, say, heating and healthcare. But it gets worse. The University cleverly outsources the majority of its janitorial tasks to contracted firms which pay their workers less than the University’s minimum wage — as low as $8/hour.
     This double standard is patently unjust. As a flagship institution that holds high standards of honor, the University should strive to ensure fair labor standards for its contracted workers. Administrators should include a “parity wage” clause in janitorial contracts that would require firms to compensate their employees at the same basic rate that the University does its own. That we hold ourselves to our own standards shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Jason Hickel