Staff: cutbacks threaten our jobs
December 9, 2008 4:08 PM
Students and faculty aren’t the only people worried about the CSU budget—campus workers are too, and many are concerned that the lack of funding could adversely affect their jobs.
“It’s a budget issue,” SF State building control specialist Jon Skiles said, adding that the CSU thinks it is saving money by cutting costs on materials and employee benefits. “It will definitely get worse as the budget gets worse.”
Skiles was one of several CSU employees who expressed grievances at the Nov. 19 Board of Trustees meeting, addressing issues such as the long-time deferment of maintenance work and the hiring of independent contractors.
Skiles, who has worked at SF State for 23 years now, said that the CSU has been contracting out more and more maintenance work without notifying the campuses’ trade workers and their unions. Instead of giving the work to hired workers, the school continues to hire independent contractors to perform tasks ranging from changing light bulbs to painting buildings.
Russell Kilday-Hicks, graphics coordinator of capital planning, design and construction, agreed, saying that the campus hires independent contractors because the CSU would only need to hire and pay them when they are needed.
“The corporate mindset has come to the CSU,” Kilday-Hicks said.
Chief steward Mario Diaz said that the campus workers had filed several grievances throughout the years, but the university continues to hire contractors.
“The morale among the workers is really low right now,” Diaz said.
Now with the governor asking for an additional $66 million in cuts, Skiles and other workers fear that they will not only be given less work to do, but that their jobs themselves are in jeopardy.
“We’ve already taken a cut this year,” Skiles said. “The CSU will cut from all campuses, facilities including.”
The previous cut resulted in a whole staff of part-time custodians losing their jobs in the middle of the summer, Skiles added. This was on top of several other positions lost over the past two decades.
Kilday-Hicks said that there are provisions in the contracts between the CSU and the trade workers that protect against outsourcing work, but Skiles added that SFSU chooses to ignore this.
A Job Order Contract program was drafted in 1995, which allows a campus to bundle maintenance projects onto a contract and present them for contractors to bid.
“Technically, the university has the right to not replace workers when they leave or retire,” Kilday-Hicks said. “They can just outsource the work.”
He cited one specific instance when the university hired an entire staff of janitorial workers when it purchased University Park North and the Village at Centennial Square.
Additionally, hiring contractors does not save money, but instead costs more, campus workers said.
“I don’t think anyone could make the case that it’s cheaper,” Skiles said. “If they let us do the work on our overtime and hire the work in-house, we can save the university and the state a lot of money.”
Another issue is the lack of accountability with the contractors, Kilday-Hicks added. When contractors are unable to complete a task or do not do the work well, campus works end up completing or repeating the work anyway.
CSU workers’ unions have urged the Board of Trustees to invest its money on well-trained and well-paid staff instead of on the work of outside contractors.
“We are entering severe economic times and need to use all resources of the CSU to get the maximum value for the buck,” said Patrick Hallahan, chief consultant to the State Employees’ Trades Council at the recent trustees’ meeting. “We’ve wasted $77 million by outsourcing jobs.”
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