Janitorial Shortage

Sophie Davenport , Growl Editor

There is an increased shortage of janitorial staff on campus, and it is self-inflicted. This shortage is putting a heavy strain on all the janitors still employed, increasing their workload, and decreasing their quality of work. Nancy Dohmlo feels as though they are being “treated like numbers not people.”
Before COVID there was talk about creating a third shift, now using COVID as a scapegoat, that third shift has been created. But not without problems. Third shift requires weekends. No one wants to work weekends. The work schedule used to be Mondays through Fridays or Tuesdays through Saturdays, four weekends on and four weekends off. The creation of the third shift position has really “messed with people’s lives.”
All current custodian positions were based on a re-bid and seniority determined who got the third shift. This has not been readily accepted and “quite of few” staff members have left, resulting in those who already work a shift needing to pick up a second one. Simply because there is no one else. The reasoning behind establishing the third shift was to cut back on overtime, trying to save the University money. Although, the third shift is unnecessary because this has just increased the already limited number of janitorial staff. BU was already short on janitorial staff while operating on only two shifts. Creating a third shift with no one to fill such a position doesn’t make much sense. And especially during a global pandemic.
Because there is an increased shortage of staff, current staff have been strained and frustrated. Everyday duties have increased there is “the same amount of work” to be done but “with less people.” Due to COVID there are also new duties to preform such as taking care of touch points (sanitizing door handles, entrance ways etc.) and the cleaning and decontamination of COVID quarantine rooms. Yet, there are only rumors about hiring more staff.
Certain custodians used to be assigned to one particular building, now because of limited staff custodians are assigned multiple buildings per shift. “Places aren’t being as cleaned” as they once were, and janitors feel as if they are “being pulled in twenty directions at once.” The third shift has affected some in personal ways. Dohmlo was assigned to the Luzerne dorm building, her children dorm there and she felt as if she was the “dorm mom.” However, she was suddenly pulled away from that position and now must clean academic buildings, such as Hartline.
Another worry of the staff is outsourcing due to the ever-confusing merger. This potential of being outsourced to other sister-universities and limited staff the “morale of [the] department [is the] lowest it’s ever been.” On top of this, there has been no reassurance from the “higher-ups.” The department has been told to “be thankful you have a job” and that BU is “not a five-star hotel.” However, some remain “optimistic” and “positive” of about the merger and the potential changes it brings.
It was discouraging to hear how negatively some janitors feel they are being treated by the university. Listening to them, makes one realize how much these people care about what they do and the students here on campus. We are repeatably told that BU’s priority is the health and safety of its students but the decrease in the quality of cleanliness and no noticeable attempts to hire more staff is a present reality. Is health and safety really a priority?