UC Irvine Janitors Savor Victory

Rising tuition, reduced class offerings and ethnic tensions fueled many of the great campus conflicts of 2010-2011 at UC Irvine, but a side issue involved the treatment of campus janitors.

At least that one seems to have been resolved.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced that after a four-year battle UCI has not only stopped outsourcing janitorial services, but 94 custodial workers have been officially classified university employees and recognized AFSCME Local 3299 members.

They had been considered employees of private contractor ABLE, but their complaints about pay and working conditions when compared to other university staffers doing similar jobs were folded into social justice issues thrown at administrators by campus agitators.

The university actually agreed last year to end outsourcing of all custodial duties on campus by this past March, under an agreement that called for the hiring of the ABLE custodians as full-time UCI employees by mid-April. Similar campaigns to end outsourcing and hire those workers as university staff have been undertaken by AFSCME at other UC campuses.

"This is a historic moment for our union," Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger says in an AFSCME statement. "It's a culmination of joint efforts by workers and their families, students, community supporters and our members."

While saying she is "extremely happy for winning this victory that has taken us more than three years to achieve," Sylvia Yolanda Diaz, a custodian in the Facilities Management department, notes that work for new union members like her is just beginning.

"[W]e still have more work to do," she says, "like fighting for a good contract."


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