CUPE 3742, Prince George Secondary School
Custodian, 28 years
I have worked as a custodian in many of the schools in our district. When I started in 1989, I felt that I had the hours to do the work that needed to be done. I worked as spare board, which usually involved working in two schools nightly. By 1992, I was working in two or three schools and as a result of this increased workload; I decided to bid into my own section.
In the mid 1990s, the work hours changed and this change included a 4-week custodial layoff during the summer months. This was our major cleaning time, and this layoff impacted custodians’ ability to do the job effectively. Custodians no longer had the time to wash all the light fixtures, scrub and wax all the flooring and to high dust. When classroom carpets were replaced with linoleum, this resulted in additional workload. Summer layoffs and cuts in hours have resulted in the reduction of custodians’ ability to complete a high standard of cleaning in our schools.
Cutting corners and rushing to get the job done can lead to job dissatisfaction, frustration and reduced personal safety. Custodial absences are not always filled, which necessitates that in-house custodians have to pick up double the workload. At one time we could expect additional staff to help with occurrences such as roof leaks and discharged fire extinguishers. Now, in-house custodians are expected to fit the additional workload into their day. As a matter of interest, I pulled one of my paystubs from 1992. I was making $14.95 an hour. Although the work that I am responsible for has increased substantially, in 28 years, my salary has increased by only $5.84 an hour.
I have seen the effects of numerous cuts and additional workloads in terms of added stress. The school I work in is the largest and most used facility in the district. There are always events going on after school hours. This also impacts “getting the job done”.
On another note, working as a day custodian, I enjoy the daily interaction with the students and staff. I consider myself fortunate in that I have the respect of the staff and students. When I bump into prior students who are now in their late 20s and early 30s, they still stop and chat.