Commentary: Say no to outsourcing custodians

Source: Michael Zilles, President of Newton Teachers Association, Wicked Local, June 10, 2016

The Newton Teachers Association is appalled by the efforts of the School Committee, under Chairman Matt Hills, to outsource the work of the school custodians. It is bad enough that, having outsourced the work of cafeteria workers, Newton already employs the working poor to serve its children lunch; now the committee wants the working poor to clean their schools. … To date, members of the NTA have publicly stated two critical reasons why outsourcing is wrong:

  1. Outsourcing is unsafe. Our custodians are trusted and valued members of the school communities where they work. Contract custodians would not be a part of these communities, and the schools they work in would be neither as clean nor as safe as they are now.
  2. Outsourcing is hypocritical. Newton has prioritized improving the achievement of poor and minority students— closing the achievement gap. Yet by replacing solid middle-class jobs with low- paying contract jobs, Newton would be contributing to the very economic conditions that create that gap.

Related:

Newton School Committee, custodians at odds over outsourcing
Source: Laura Lovett, Wicked Local, May 18, 2016

After almost two years of contract negotiations, custodians and the School Committee are at a stalemate, the issue of outsourcing emerging as one obstacle to reaching an agreement. A jurisdiction clause dating back to the 1990s allows only union custodians to perform custodial work in the school buildings. At issue is whether the clause will be removed from a new contract. If the clause were to be removed some custodians could be replaced with contract employees making lower wages, according to Alan McDonald, the attorney representing the Newton Public School Custodians Association. Currently there are roughly 80 custodians in the schools. … In the response, outsourcing was discussed at length. The response said the School Committee presented several proposals with the goal of efficiency in operations and saving money. A consultant’s report by Core Management Services LLC, commissioned by the School Committee in 2015, identified potential annual cost savings through outsourcing of up to $3 million. …