Wesleyan Student Assembly


Resolution 4.35: Supporting the Fair Treatment of Janitorial Staff

Resolution 4.35: Resolution Supporting the Fair Treatment of Janitorial Staff
Sponsors: Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14 (Principal), Andrew Trexler ’14, Nicole Updegrove ’14, Susannah Greenblatt ’16, David Whitney ’16,

Highlighting that our living space is their workplace,

Affirming Wesleyan workers, including custodial staff, as members of the Wesleyan community alongside students and faculty,

Asserting that Wesleyan students have a responsibility to fight for the just treatment of Wesleyan community members,

Acknowledging that the contract between Wesleyan University and Sun services, signed spring 2012, decreased the number of full-time employees who clean Wesleyan by 10 positions, and stipulates a lower standard of cleanliness for most spaces on campus than was previously employed,

Citing that the decrease in staffing has greatly increased daily workloads for remaining custodial workers despite Sun Service’s attempts to re-organize workloads in a fair way, [1]

Citing worker testimonies to the fact that many of the re-organized positions have workloads that are unreasonable, dangerous, and ultimately inhumane.[2]

Concerned that the increased daily workloads have created a tremendous strain on workers’ bodies,

Concerned also for the emotional strain posed by such strenuous work loads,

Acknowledging that Sun Services currently complies with industry standards for custodial workloads,[3]

Asserting that these standards were created for spaces and communities very different from Wesleyan and thus cannot possibly ensure the just treatment of workers on Wesleyan campus,

Acknowledging that student behavior, sometimes substance-induced and specifically over the weekends, creates a particularly dramatic level of uncleanliness that must then be remedied by the custodians,

Highlighting that the spaces are also often occupied by students, faculty, and staff while the custodians are working, which creates delays in their ability to complete their duties,[4]

Recognizing that many of the spaces on campus that require cleaning are not the dense office-style or dormitory buildings for which the industry standards were established,

Noting the wide distances between buildings that workers are expected to clean,

Appreciating that the reorganization of workloads that went into effect in September of 2013 did consolidate worker routes to take into account travel time between buildings,

Highlighting that for many workers, the improvements in workload were more than offset by the increased numbers of spaces they were expected to clean,

Asserting that custodians on Wesleyan’s campus should be able to take pride in the work that they do, rather than stress over the quantity of work that cannot get done each day,

Asserting that the Wesleyan community, being very different from the communities for which the industry standards were originally written, should establish its own standards for fair labor practices for workers employed, directly or indirectly, by Wesleyan University,

Acknowledging the precedent for such standards established by the Wesleyan University Employment Code for Service Contractors effective 1st September 2000,[5]

Citing that this Wesleyan University Employment Code for Service Contractors was to be overseen by a Code Compliance Board, which was never given official power by the University and is thus not currently active,[6]

Recognizing that the custodian’s union, SEIU 32BJ, provides important benefits and protections to the custodial staff,[7]

Concerned that those benefits and protections are insufficient to provide the higher standard of treatment that we desire for the Wesleyan University community,

Concerned that, due to the staffing shortage, Sun Services hires temp workers who are paid less and do not have job security, but are expected to perform work comparable to full-time employees,

Acknowledging the reality that despite Sun Service’s best efforts, with the campus workload distributed amongst only 50 positions, it is simply not possible to give every worker a fair and manageable workload,

Acknowledging that Sun Services would like to be able to run their operation at Wesleyan smoothly and fairly, without ongoing disputes and conflicts regarding the unmanageable nature of workloads,

Recognizing that Sun Services cannot afford to hire additional workers if Wesleyan does not expand the Universities cleaning budget,

Highlighting the fact that these workers are subcontracted and therefore cannot directly demand that Wesleyan University adopt a higher standard for labor practices,

Asserting that the costs of completing the custodial work at Wesleyan should be paid by the University rather than in the physical and emotional wellbeing, medical fees, and decreased life expectancy of the workers,

Asserting that the increased cleanliness of Wesleyan facilities and the well-being of the custodial staff are well-worth the additional costs of hiring more custodians,

Citing that universities have historically been at the forefront of instituting progressive practices and standards,

Citing that the Mission Statement of Wesleyan University states that, “Wesleyan University is dedicated to providing an education in the liberal arts that is characterized by boldness, rigor, and practical idealism,”[8]

Affirming that we do possess the opportunity to set a higher standard for society at large,

Therefore be it resolved that the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA),

  1. Entreats the Wesleyan administration to allow the formation of a Code Compliance Board made up of faculty, staff, students, and workers that would revisit and revise the Employment Code for Service Contractors adopted in 2000, hear worker complaints about violations to the code or to their human rights, and mediate grievances of non-compliance with the Code.
  2. Urges Wesleyan to amend their contract with Sun Services to include fairer standards for custodial workloads, including (but not limited to):
    1. The expansion of Sun Services full-time workforce on Wesleyan campus by five positions, be they new positions, or positions that were previously temporary.
    2. The maintenance of a staff of 55 full-time custodial workers at all times.
    3. That the newly constituted Code Compliance Board be vested with real oversight authority.
  3. Resolves to remain actively seized of the matter.

[Introduced 6th October 2013 / Unanimously Adopted 13th October 2013]


[1]  “Why Dorm Showers Aren’t Getting Cleaned; An FAQ About Wesleyan and Its Contracted Custodial Staff Part II of III” http://wesleying.org/2013/09/28/why-dorm-showers-arent-getting-cleaned-an-faq-about-wesleyan-and-its-contracted-custodial-staff-part-ii-of-iii/

[2]Open Letter to President Roth from Sun Service Employees: http://wesleying.org/2013/09/17/this-is-why-not-a-guest-post-by-cesar-chavez-15-about-the-custodial-staffs-situation/

[3] APPA Custodial Guidelines

[4] “Why Dorm Showers Aren’t Getting Cleaned; An FAQ About Wesleyan and Its Contracted Custodial Staff Part II of III” http://wesleying.org/2013/09/28/why-dorm-showers-arent-getting-cleaned-an-faq-about-wesleyan-and-its-contracted-custodial-staff-part-ii-of-iii/

[5] www.wesleyan.edu/uslac/June13code.htm

[6]  Norr, Sarah. “Justice for Janitors; USLAC’s Campaign to Help Wes Workers Rise Above the Poverty Line” Hermes, Disorientation 2000.

[7] “Agreement Between Service Employees’ Internation Union Local 32BJ and Hartford County Cleaning Contractors Association” http://www.seiu32bj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012-Hartford-Contractors-Agreement-English.pdf

[8] http://www.wesleyan.edu/about/mission.html