Earlier this week, six Tufts janitors received layoff notices. They are six of 20 who will be dismissed by late August as part of Patricia Campbell’s, Tufts Vice President and Linda Snyder’s, Vice President of Operations “reorganization plan of custodial services.”
Since early in the 2014 fall semester, Tufts Labor Coalition (TLC), a student group which advocates on behalf of Tufts’ staff workers, started hearing rumors from janitors that layoffs were imminent.
Tufts administrators confirmed these concerns in a Nov. 21 email to the student body which introduced the restructuring as “improving custodial services efficiency” and “encouraging ‘green’ behaviors.”
The email explained that DTZ, Tufts’ custodial services contractor, found Tufts to be inefficiently deploying their janitorial staff and these layoffs aimed to remedy that inefficiency. It would later surface that the 20 proposed janitor layoffs would save the school approximately $900,000.
The occupation led to an agreement which prevented any staff cuts until, at the earliest, April, and a provision that Patricia Campbell and Linda Snyder would attend a public forum between the community and the administration.
The public forum came and went with attendees, ranging from Tufts alumni, to Matthew McLaughlin, a Somerville Alderman, voicing their dissent for the layoffs. As the reorganization plan remained unchanged, protests and actions only intensified.
As the semester came to a close, actions included janitorial staff marches, union rallies, city resolutions from Medford and Somerville, as well as student and union member arrests, and ultimately, a week-long hunger strike.
With the layoffs now underway, the janitors face an uncertain future and it remains to be seen how the union and Tufts Labor Coalition will respond in the coming months.
Events leading up to the hunger strike
Administration, Tufts Labor Coalition clash over janitorial cuts: a year in review
Interested in the events leading up to Tufts Labor Coalition's hunger strike against cuts? Check out this interactive…
Timeline of the hunger strike
Timeline: Tufts Labor Coalition demands 'no cuts' through hunger strike (with images, tweets) …
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, five Tufts students stopped eating to bring attention to Tufts University's proposed…
Where we are now
Tufts announces scheduled layoffs for custodial staff, despite student protests
Update (6:45 p.m.): A public statement from the Tufts Labor Coalition, a student group which has advocated on behalf of…
- The most up-to-date announcement from administrators and their plan for custodial staff layoffs
- The History — and Health Implications — of Student Hunger Strikes
- Tufts janitors have lower starting salary than peer institutions
- Why Tufts needs to reorganize custodial services, a Tufts Daily op-ed submission
- A short documentary [video] exploring the fall semester sit-in which lasted for 33 hours
- The original agreement [pdf] between the Tufts Labor Coalition and university administrators
- A proposal from DTZ for the reorganization
- Medford City Council unanimously votes to support Tufts janitors
- Tufts students among several arrested at protest against janitor cuts
- The week-long hunger strike begins
- Hunger strikers are fenced in and guarded by TUPD 24 hours a day
- Hunger strike ends with no agreement reached
- Commencement protests tentatively planned, union seeks more gradual restructuring
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