LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Custodian union asks for your help ahead of bargaining, budget cuts


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TO THE EDITOR:

Central Michigan University is populated with approximately 90 custodian team members. As you interact daily with your custodian team member, you may not be aware of our past failed attempts to negotiate some type of wage agreement with management. 

As part of the Joint Union Council we would be honored if you would support our next bargaining attempt with the university.

We have been told that we have no bargaining power because they can "outsource" our jobs and pay less money, less benefits and it would be less of a headache for them. It is our opinion as custodians that you get what you pay for. We have reasons to believe that outsourcing our services would result in unhappy faculty, staff and students.

In this regard, we need you to act to help us communicate our message to Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services, Barry Wilkes, and President George Ross. Hearing from you would help us send the message that custodians who work with you every day, take excellent care of their customers. 

Custodians don't just clean and disinfect their areas, they become one with that family of CMU employees and students. They take pride in taking care of "their people,” or "their students." That is why when their wages were frozen in 2008 they didn't give up and walk away from CMU.

Victoria Zegler/ Staff Photographer Cathy Aho, custodian of Beddow and Thorpe Residence Halls, jokes with students at the front desk to help her catch up with her work by, "grabbing a mop and taking the other half of Beddow."

They agreed to work with management and try to come to a different compromise each contract afterward. As you realize, 2008 was nine years ago. That is how long the wages of your CMU custodian team have been frozen. While the wage scale for new hires became $9.50/hour for people hired after 2008.

In 2008, CMU decided that the custodian wage scale was entirely too high for the area. Custodian wages were $12.43 per hour - $13.69 -14.05 (top wage). They froze these people and hired new custodians and summer temporary help at $9.50 per hour. Then with the 2014 contract still froze, if hired before 2008 stayed at $9.50; in 2015 to $9.85; and, in 2016 to $10.08. So, anyone hired before 2008 has been frozen for nine years. Today the hiring wage for a custodian coming in off the street, regardless of experience is $10.08 per hour.

Regardless of the past, we do our jobs and are committed to providing the very best custodial service and support to the CMU community. We refer to our buildings, when talking to each other as OUR students, OUR people.

We take pride in our work. CMU has outsourced custodian services to Romanow for new campus buildings, including Dow Science, Greenhouse, ProfEd, Indoor Athletic Complex, Music, Library, Health Professions & Education and Human Services and Bioscience buildings.

Romanow is a private custodial service company based on Saginaw.

As departments move to these buildings they express their dissatisfaction with the custodians from the Romanow crew. They pay minimum wage and do not retain their people very long.

Our goal this spring is to rally faculty, staff, students and our community to become aware of this struggle.

To encourage everyone reading this article to please send out emails and help educate others of our contract negotiations coming up in May. We will be asking for an elimination of the two-tier wage scale. We will ask that wages be unfrozen and that every custodian be raised up from $10.08 to the minimum of $12.43 per hour. Custodian wages that have been frozen for 9 years need to be raised as well.

But none of this will be possible if we do not obtain the support of faculty, staff, administration and students. Members of our community also will be asked to email President Ross and the Board of Trustees as we, the custodian team, work here and spend our money here in this community.

We are loyal and always strive to support CMU and the Central Michigan community. We are appreciative of your time and thank you in advance for your support this year as we negotiate our contract.

Members of AFSCME

Local #1568



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