Our Working Lives


Originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 59, printed August 23. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Summer 2019 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Workers at the University of Virginia will have a special reason to celebrate this coming New Year’s Day. 

That’s when Charlottesville’s largest employer will increase its minimum wage for full-time employees eligible for benefits to $15 an hour. The university’s current minimum wage has been $12.75 since December 2017. 

The new minimum will apply to around 1,400 full-time university and medical center workers, according to the university. Around 700 more employees now earning close to $15 an hour also will see an increase. 

The university has said the higher wages will come from “existing resources” and “identification of cost savings and efficiencies,” not tuition hikes. 

This victory comes after decades of student organizing for a living wage at UVA, but still falls short of what the Economic Policy Institute has said is a living wage for Charlottesville: $16.84 plus benefits. 

Left out of the deal will be workers for outside contractors, such as Aramark, which provides UVA’s dining services. Aramark, a notoriously anti-labor outfit, pays employees $10.65. 

In a community-wide email statement, UVA President Jim Ryan has pledged to work on a plan to extend the same $15 commitment to contract employees.

Categories: Our Working Lives

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