After a few weeks of working the night shift, the janitorial staff at Fairfield received news from their employer, ABM, that as of Monday, Nov. 30, their shifts would be switched back to their original 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. shifts.

As reported by The Mirror on Nov. 11, ABM chose to alter the shifts of the janitorial staff to begin at 11 p.m. and run through the night.

Many janitors and members of the Fairfield Welfare Committee, including Sonya Huber, associate professor of English and a member of Steering Committee, a subcommittee of the FWC, and Gisela Gil-Egui, associate professor of communication, protested against this change of shift, saying that it would cause a disturbance to the family lives of these dedicated workers who have been with the University for many years.

Gil-Egui brought the labor issues on campus to the attention of the FWC when she heard from a janitor that she is friendly with that ABM would be changing their shifts back.

According to Gil-Egui, as a result of the FWC coming together with the janitorial staff to spread the word about this issue, ABM eventually agreed to change the janitorial shifts back to their original start time. Gil-Egui added that “a big factor in the company’s decision was the story run by The Mirror on the matter, two or three weeks ago,” Gil-Egui said.

Sophomore Amanda Marrone feels that this speaks a lot to the impact that journalism can have when it comes to making a change on campus.

“The media and journalists play a critical role in bringing attention to issues that most do not know about. Journalists are like a gatekeeper by bringing attention to these issues and in doing so, enforcing a change,” Marrone said.

For Gil-Egui, this victory was also made possible by the “swift and effective actions taken by the FWC in solidarity with the janitors.”

“Together, faculty and students made noise to demand justice for workers at the university and it worked,” Gil-Egui said in her post in the Fairfield Faculty Welfare Committee Facebook page obtained by The Mirror through their adviser Dr. Xie.

Huber agreed, saying that she is “so heartened by this change; it’s a good reminder to me of the power of solidarity.”

“When we stand up for each other and hold each other accountable for living our shared values, amazing things can happen,” she continued.

Despite the sense of camaraderie that formed through this movement, Huber still feels that the University could have done more to work with ABM on this issue in order to come to a better solution for the janitorial staff.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the Fairfield administration chose not to communicate with ABM and not to directly voice its commitment to labor rights on this issue,” Huber said.

According to Vice President of Human Resources Scott Esposito ‘82, “While the University is supportive of the employees and hopes for positive outcomes, it has no role in the bargaining process or the contractual relationship between ABM and the union. The University has encouraged both sides to use the collective bargaining process to resolve any issues relative to schedules and working conditions. We are happy to see that the process has already yielded agreeable results.”

Huber went on to say that the administration misunderstood how unions work when they chose not to voice their support for the workers in respect for collective bargaining.

“All workers need the support of their community, and being unionized does not prevent either workers or their friends, neighbors, and even their contractors from getting involved, being vocal, and participating in conversation about workplace issues,” Huber said.

Sophomore Megan Eckert agreed with Huber and Gil-Egui that the janitorial staff is deserving of this change in shift, saying that “the workers should have a say in picking when they work because it’s their own time and they have a right to choose.”

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  1. Latest Janitors News | Janitorial Cleaning Company

    […] Uniformity wins janitorial staff old shift back After a couple of weeks of functioning the night shift, the janitorial staff at Fairfield obtained information from their company, ABM, that as of Monday, Nov. 30, their changes would be switched over back to their original 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. shifts. As reported by The Mirror … Read a lot more on Fairfield Mirror […]

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