Two years ago, the University renewed its dining services partnership with Aramark. Under the 20-year contract, Aramark will invest over $20 million in upgrading dining facilities and provide a wider variety of local products. Aramark will also continue to provide contracted workers to operate the University’s dining halls for the next two decades. Although the University works closely with Aramark, the administration has refused to gather information on contracted workers’ wages. This lack of information prevents the University from ensuring contracted employees are paid wages comparable to those of direct employees.
The living wage in Charlottesville is $13.72, according to Living Wage at U.Va. This wage is defined as the minimum hourly rate required for a family of four to meet their basic needs. Although this number excludes some family expenses such as retirement and emergency savings, the living wage gives employees the ability to avoid poverty. In the pursuit of a living wage for all workers on Grounds, the University must know what contracted workers are being paid.
By refusing to gather information about wages paid to contracted workers, the University turns a blind eye to contracted companies’ potentially exploitative compensatory practices. The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees receive fair wages, contracted employees included. To achieve this, the University must first obtain information regarding contracted employees’ wages from companies such as Aramark.