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Custodial staff deserves fair treatment

Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 3, 2007

When I was first hired at Notre Dame, I was ecstatic. I felt that I had secured employment with a future. But four years later, I find myself disillusioned and disappointed. There are several issues I think the University needs to address: The compensation package for the custodial staff is shamefully lacking, we are over-worked and the University shows us little respect.

The first area of concern is the salary and benefit package. People are usually impressed when I tell them I work at Notre Dame as it carries a certain prestige – along with the assumption that the salary would be adequate. Nothing could be further from the truth. After four years of employment, I have received a total salary increase of $.50 per hour. My wages are far less than the established federal poverty level for my family of five. As if this weren’t difficult enough, there is a hefty deductible from every paycheck for health insurance. Heaven help us if we become ill because there isn’t enough money left to pay the co-pay for a doctor’s visit.

I am certainly willing to work hard for my salary, but the custodial staff at Notre Dame is fully over-worked. There is often more work than can be done in an eight-hour shift. There exists an inequality in job assignments, and if one employee calls in sick, it is up to the rest of us to take up the slack. Also, several employees have sustained job-related injuries and experienced other health issues as a result of their employment at Notre Dame, and they are often forced to return to work before they have fully recovered.

Everybody needs to feel valued and appreciated, but the custodial staff at Notre Dame seems to receive little respect and recognition. The phrase, “The staff is the backbone of this university,” has been tossed around for years, but I don’t see that respect. For example, when the Jordan Hall of Science was dedicated, the custodial staff was told we needed to leave the building during these festivities – after months of extra work assignments during the construction phase to get the building ready. There was no recognition or respect shown for our extra hours of hard work.

The custodial staff makes a contribution to this university that cannot be paralleled. This great institution has a debt to us that needs to be paid. All we are asking for is a fair salary, a fair workload, and a little respect and appreciation. Is that asking too much?

If you would like to help address these labor issues at Notre Dame, please send an email to the Campus Labor Action Project at ndlabor@gmail.com

Donna BromelingBuilding Services staffDec. 3