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January 21, 1999

Custodians to rebid for jobs again; no date for implementation of plan

While implementation of a Facilities Management plan to improve custodial services is still a couple weeks away, Pitt custodians will re-bid for jobs on Jan. 27 in preparation for their new assignments. The plan, announced in November by Ana Guzman, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management, was originally to go into effect Dec. 21. (See University Times, Dec. 10.) Under the bidding process, the 201 service workers choose positions based on seniority and job classification. The custodians, members of Local 29 of the Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, had bid on jobs Dec. 9 and 10. But results of that bidding were nullified by Facilities Management due to complaints from custodians that the job descriptions were unclear. The office also wanted to evaluate input from individual departments regarding the plan's effects.

According to Lewis Brower, director of maintenance and operations, Facilities Management wanted to give the plan's implementation more time. "In retrospect, the packages provided for the workers with job descriptions generally were okay, but there were a couple of assignments [that were] not totally clear, where the title did not quite match the job description, for example, or where more than one building was involved [in a job assignment] and that was not made clear," Brower said. "It was in a very few instances, but we went through all the descriptions again, and I think we've worked it out." Brower also said there is a snowballing effect when a worker with seniority is dissatisfied with a job selection and would have made a different choice if clearer descriptions were available.

"We realize that this involves life-style changes for many of the custodians and that it is potentially controversial. So giving it a little extra time and getting it right couldn't hurt," Brower said.

As many as 150 of the custodians will be working non-daylight hour shifts when the plan is implemented, up from 63 at present. Under the new plan, there will be three shifts: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 4 p.m.-12:30 a.m. and 11 p.m.-7 a.m.

Non-custodial Local 29 union service workers, such as groundskeepers, will not be affected by the plan.

Brower also said some offices had questions about the plan. "Overall, there were very few changes to our original plans for providing evening- and night-shift cleaning as a result of [departments'] questions," Brower said. "We considered all requests. There was one department with offices with different functions and in one of those offices night-time cleaning simply would not work, so we accommodated a request. But those [examples] were very few." Officials of Local 29 could not be reached for comment yesterday.

–Peter Hart

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