OSU Custodial Staff and the Power of Sunlight

From the February 20th Corvallis Gazette-Times:

OSU, trying to trim more than $11 million from its 2009-10 budget, cut $400,000 from its janitorial contract with GCA Services Group, the private company that handles custodial work at the university, on Dec. 14.

The contract amount with GCA was amended to $850,000 for January through June of this year. The cutback forced the company to lay off nearly 30 custodians from a staff of more than 90. The Gazette-Times was not provided with the exact number of employees who have been laid off.

Now, the remaining custodians are trying to adjust to the changes in their workloads. And OSU students and staff members said they’re taking on cleaning duties that the custodians formerly handled.

Arter said that GCA believes the workload is “manageable” for the remaining custodians. But the janitors say it’s impossible to do the job right with almost a third fewer custodians cleaning the same square footage. “The morale is not very high,” Arter said.

From SEIU, the union that represents the custodial staff, a web page that includes a petition to ask the university to restore funding:

We do not believe the janitorial reductions are in keeping with the values and principles outlined in the OSU strategic plan for 2009–2013, Phase II. We all want to see OSU “rank among the ten best Land Grant universities in the nation” (1) however unsanitary conditions are not in keeping with this vision. These conditions jeopardize the health of our students, staff and faculty; they diminish the improvements made to our campus infrastructure.

Given that OSU’s financial outlook is better than expected, we respectfully request that you restore funding of janitorial services to its previous level.

From an email sent to OSU folks on March 2nd from Sabah Randhawa, the Provost, and Mark McCambridge, the Vice Presidentt for Finance and Administration:

OSU Community:

We are pleased to announce a series of budget-related actions resulting from passage of ballot measures 66 and 67 and the Oregon Legislature’s decision in the recently concluded legislative session not to impose additional cuts on the higher education budget, and wish to express our appreciation to ASOSU, OSA, and others whose support was instrumental during the February legislative session.

…..

We are reinstating the level of custodial service that had been reduced earlier this year.

…..

Sabah Randhawa

Provost and Executive Vice President
Mark McCambridge

Vice President, Finance and Administration

Despite the lack of acknowledgment from the OSU admin folks, I have no doubt that the public pressure brought by the GT had a lot to do with this decision.  Kudos to reporter Cheryl Hatch and photographer Scobel Wiggins for their work on this.

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