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.