Stanford’s pay continuation policy excludes contracted workers; community responds with petition, fundraiser

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While Stanford has committed to pay continuation for regular employees throughout spring quarter, this policy does not extend to the University’s contracted employees, including more than 200 custodians responsible for cleaning academic facilities employed through UG2, a national custodial service, and 56 kitchen staff employed through Student Organized Services (SOS), a group of chefs and hashers serving on the Row. 

On March 7, prior to Stanford’s announcement of its pay continuation policy, Students for Workers’ Rights (SWR) sent a petition to the University administration with a list of eight demands, calling on Stanford to provide continued pay, adequate benefits and safe working conditions to all employees, including contracted workers, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University announced its policy of interim pay continuation on March 16, committing to pay “all full-time and benefits-eligible part-time employees at their current base rate of pay without respect to the numbers of hours worked.” 

Workers employed through subsidiary companies such as UG2 and SOS are currently facing different repercussions due to the University’s management of contracted employees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UG2 workers are expected to continue working through California’s “shelter-in-place” order without the option to opt out of work, receive paid sick leave without a deduction of accumulated sick days or receive hazard pay. 

Residential Education decided to suspend the SOS service contract for spring quarter, according to an email from Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Amanda Rodriguez and Fraternity and Sorority Life Program Manager Christopher Carter, leaving Row house kitchen staff unemployed this spring. Residential Education said it would provide two weeks of compensation and benefits for SOS employees “as a gesture of gratitude and goodwill.” 

In response to Stanford’s treatment of contracted employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SWR updated its March 7 petition to reiterate its demands of the administration with a particular emphasis on extending the pay continuation policy to all University-affiliated workers, including contracted workers. 

In addition, Stanford faculty and staff circulated a petition on March 19 calling for the University to continue to support all staff –– including regular and contracted employees –– as it would “if the University were running at normal in-person capacity.” 

On Sunday, The Daily published an op-ed titled “Stanford: Contracted workers deserve the same benefits as your ‘regular’ employees,” written by SWR members Shelby Parks ’19 M.S. ’20, Chloe Stoddard ’21 and Ethan Chua ’20. The authors expressed concern for the working conditions and safety of UG2 contracted employees and uncertainty faced by SOS kitchen staff. 

To support the 56 furloughed chefs and hashers who work in row houses, SWR initiated a centralized fundraiser on Tuesday for all SOS kitchen staff. As of Wednesday night, SWR has raised $8,285 of its $200,000 goal. SWR hopes to raise enough money to at least partially subsidize what the kitchen staff would have earned this spring, amounting to roughly $10,000 to $20,000 in lost salary per person.

The SWR fundraiser provided a link to a spreadsheet listing existing fundraisers for kitchen staff initiated by individual houses. 

The fundraiser also encouraged students to share the ways service workers have impacted life on campus via a Google Form and on social media. 

“Subcontracted workers have taken care of us students every day that we’ve been at Stanford,” wrote Parks, Stoddard and Chua in their op-ed. “Now, in the face of a deadly pandemic, Stanford is failing to take care of them.”

Contact Alex Tsai at aotsai ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Alex Tsai ’21 is a senior staff writer for The Daily. Previous roles at The Daily include news desk editor and mobile app developer. Alex is majoring in Computer Science and is a member of the varsity lacrosse team. Contact her at aotsai 'at' stanford.edu.