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Custodians or Carpet Cleaners?

Decision to have custodians clean the schools' carpets, a task that was previously handled by subcontractors, has angered the district's custodians. School board vows to discuss the issue and possibly take action at the next board meeting.

Recent decisions made within have upset the district’s custodians. They are being asked to clean the carpets within the schools that they work in, a task that the district had apparently been contracting out.

The issue came to light during the public comment section of last night’s board meeting as SEIU co-president and longtime district custodian Carlos Augosto took to the podium to address the issue.

“Even though I have all due respect for them (management) my belief is that they don’t have the experience to run a maintenance department. And they have made certain decisions to upset the custodians," he said.

Augosto explained: “Last Friday and this past Monday, we went through the training that the CBO discussed (at the beginning of the school board meeting). The custodians were told at that time that we clean carpet, which is increasing the workload. The carpet at my estimate would be about 80,000 square feet. Even though I don’t support subcontractor work, there should be other personnel hired back.”

Augosto pointed out that custodians’ hours have been cut by 40 or more hours, they are 40 percent understaffed and is 50 percent understaffed.

“Our job duties were cut and modified because of the time that we had to do the job was very difficult to complete before the start of school,” he said.

The custodians were told at the training that the district lacks the revenue to subcontract the carpet cleaning service to clean the district’s carpet Augosto said.

Augosto said that a manager during the carpet cleaning training, which was conducted by a couple of consultants, told the custodians “The district has no money, you guys have to try and do the carpet.”

Augosto said that the same manager said “You guys can do this, I have faith in you. We love you guys.”

However, Augosto told the board last night  that the manager didn’t know 90 percent of the custodians’ names.

“How can you make a comment about loving us,” Augosto said. “I’ve been a custodian for 16 years. I’m from the community … been here since 1969. It is our community. I’m not only a custodian here. I look at my job as important. I believe in my heart that the managers work hard, but these are the things that we feel. We spent $2,000 in consulting. We sat there for 12 hours. I don’t think any custodian learned one single thing. But we have been doing it … from 12 years to 25 years. We know our job, we know our district.”

SEIU Field Representative Ian Arnold also spoke to the board in favor of contracting the carpet cleaning. He told the board that in the past, when the custodians’ hours were cut, some of their tasks decreased. However, the tasks including the cleaning of the carpets were recently put back on the to-do list without an increase in the hours given, making it difficult if not nearly impossible for them to reasonably finish everything.

The board was sympathetic to the arguments made by Augosto and Arnold and vowed to put the matter on the next board meeting’s agenda.

The cost of subcontracting the cleaning of the carpets within the district would be around $10,000.

Jonathan Sandoval June 13, 2012 at 02:34 AM
This article illustrates what is wrong with the SS Titantic otherwise known as California. Too many unions with too many special interests. You are worried about the status quo. Wake up smell the coffee! All of us are doing more for less. Be innovative and not whining ask the district to invest better equipment, changing to a type of flooring that requires less maintenance, the up front cost would pay for itself down the road. Cull the herd, keep the best producers and pay them more, not just because they have been there 10. 15 or 20 years. Finally outsource it, a contractor will get it done more efficiently, I know I would. Bring yourself down to Texas, we'll show you how it is done. This Country is becoming fat and lazy with no gratitude that they have a job.
Joe Pip June 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Ian, Please answer these few questions… What is the sq. ft. of the buildings? How many custodians are there? What is the sq. ft of carpet of carpets per building the custodians are being required to clean? During the “summer cleaning”, what other work are custodians doing instead of doing rugs? What demeaning comments made by the consultants? Thanks, Joe Pip
Gary Erwin June 14, 2012 at 07:33 PM
California is just fine the way that it is. We surly would not want to become more like Texas. Both states are unique in their own way and that is the way they ought to stay. Unions as they were conceived are ideal protection for the worker and good for society in general. When they get bloated and out of touch then it is time to fix their issues and realign them, not destroy them. As the rich get richer and the middle class gets the money squeezed out of them unions will become vital. An individual can not fight the disproportionate inequality alone he/she must join together into a strong and forward moving mass to break apart and shake loose some of the rich’s wealth.
Milton Doss June 25, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I'm a school custodian of 20 plus years. Currently we are still in-house w/full coverage insurance & dental benefits. I seem to be one of a handful of employees who is grateful to have a job w/benefits today. We have'nt had a raise in 5 years (I could always use a raise) but I'm still grateful. There's a whole lot of negativity here and when I try to put a positive spin on the situation it is not appreciated. I've learned to shut up and stay positive.
Joe Pip July 09, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Tim, I guess Ian does not want to reply to our questions. I guess if he did, we would be able to figure that they have the right manpower.

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