When is a Custodian NOT a Custodian?

Apparently, when he’s not a member of a union! A very unfortunate trend is recurring throughout the public school system that is leaving some of the most essential workers without union protection, and in some cases without contracts. According to a number of school representatives, workers who are not already in a union are not to be labeled, “custodians.”

By labeling them “clean-up crews” the districts have been able to keep many workers out of contracts. In the local school system where I attended, the custodians, teachers’ aides, and typists had gone three years without a contract! Despite the fact they had mass support from both faculty and staff.

These types of gross monstrosities in the workplace are becoming common practice and forcing thousands of hard-working men and women into low-paying jobs without benefits and the presence of descent and acceptable working conditions.

Although most unions have taken collective bargaining as a means to bending over for their corporate “masters,” the basic protections and freedoms provided by the First Amendment are being denied to our fellow comrades. Recently, a friend of mine who is a part-time custodian at
Chenango
Forks
High School
in
Binghamton, NY
, has told me about some of his experiences in dealing with the administration.

First, it is stated up front that no employees shall join or form a union. Secondly, part time workers, who are sometimes forced to stay until ten o’clock at night (well beyond their normal shift, thus extending beyond legal part time hours) are denied contracts. Raises were also initially promised every six months depending on job performance evaluation; however, no evaluation was made therefore there was never a raise. This occurred with a number of workers within the district.

My friend went on to tell me about a worker who was the model employee: he stayed late when he needed to, never called in sick or took personal days, always worked to the best of his abilities, and never complained. In fact, the only time he missed work was when he took off to look after his sick child. Since his wife was working and they alternated who would have to take off work, he was forced to call in and let his employers know he was not going to be able to go in today. Apparently, under his contract as a full-time custodian, he had exhausted his “sick days” (which he had been forced to use not for himself, but for his child) and was fired on the spot.

Atrocities like this happen all the time, many to whom are unaware of their rights as workers and as human beings. Upon hearing this, I equipped my friend with pamphlets on workers’ rights and offered him some copies of the party newspaper to distribute amongst his fellow workers. He was more than happy to take them and told me that the others would be very excited to read them. As of now I’m waiting to hear how the situation progresses, and ready and willing to do whatever it takes to help them in their cause.

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