Teach In on Monday 11th, 2013 at 7 PM in Kaleidoscope Room, Newcomb Hall

What’s a living wage?… Why is it important for all of our University’s employees?… Will it make my tuition go up?… Can our University do this?

And how can YOU get involved?

Come out, ask hard questions, and learn about your fellow students’ efforts to get fair wages for everyone on Grounds.

Please RSVP for the event on Facebook

 

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Equal Pay for Equal Work: FAQs

Q:  “Equal Pay for Equal Work!” – What does this mean? Who isn’t being paid equally?

A:  UVA has two kinds of employee: direct and contract.

  • Direct employees currently make at least $11.30/hr plus benefits.
  • Contract employees (or, those employed to do work at the University via an outside company, like Aramark Dining Services) can be paid as little as federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr) with no benefits.
  • Direct and contract employees often do the exact same jobs, like cleaning buildings, but for very different pay.

 

Q: What are the stats here? How many contract employees? What is their average pay?

A:  We don’t know and neither does the University.

  • Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Living Wage Campaign has reviewed a number of current contracts.  They all state that contractors will provide employee and compensation information to UVA on a yearly basis.
  • Administrators assert they don’t have this information; when we FOIA them, we get nothing.
  • There have been promises from the highest levels of the University administration to eventually collect this data. However, there has been no action to follow up on these promises – politically, it is easier and more convenient for the administration not to know.

 

Q: Why does the University use contract labor?

A: There are always pressures to cut costs and increase efficiency, and some try to get gains by cutting compensation for the lowest paid employees. The scale of that gain is small compared to other expenses of the University, while the consequences to the affected workers are great. We live in a community where these contract employees are the most excluded constituency and thus they are constantly targets. The University publicizes the fact that they pay their direct employees at least $11.30/hr plus benefits, but the truth is that contract workers can be paid as little as $7.25/hr without benefits. That’s a huge difference in terms of people’s daily lives!

 

Q:  Didn’t some lawyer say it’s illegal for the University to require that contracting companies pay certain wages?

A:  Kind of, but not really. In 2006, then-President Casteen solicited a legal opinion on this matter from then-Attorney General McDonnell in response to actions from the Living Wage Campaign. The AG’s opinion quoted a best-value consideration in legislation governing public contracts, claiming that it was illegal to mandate the pay of contracted employees. Our lawyers have reviewed relevant case law and have shown that this claim is legally flimsy. There are no specific laws in either direction, so the best answer is that this is a legal grey area. But the University has hidden behind this convenient legal fiction for years to avoid doing what is right.

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