LAUSD Director of Labor Relations and Chief Negotiator Walks a Day in a Custodian’s Shoes
SEIU Local 99 commends LAUSD Director of Labor Relations and Chief Negotiator Najeeb Khoury for going through with the challenge of walking a day in our shoes. For his July 28 ‘walk’, he joined Edna Logan—a custodian at Esteban Torres High School and a Bargaining Team member—in cleaning and stripping the floor of a chemistry lab.
“It’s important to understand the issues, not just abstractly, but concretely. It’s important to see the challenges our employees face and to recognize and acknowledge those challenges. Hopefully that helps us work collaboratively to find solutions to the problems we face as a district” said Mr. Khoury on why he felt it was important to experience the work of a custodian.
Building & Grounds employees at the district have long been calling on the district to recognize and address persistent understaffing and excessive workloads, which negatively affect not just the employees who do the job, but also students and other staff working at understaffed schools. On this issue, Ms. Logan says, “For us to be able to do what’s expected of us on a regular basis, there are times we cannot mop, there are times we cannot sweep or de-gum when those things are necessary. In order for us to be able to service all areas, while not falling short of servicing the restrooms, which are priority, we often have to cut corners just to get the work done.”
But it’s not just understaffing that B&G employees are challenged with. “When we’re working and doing the work required, we often feel like we’re underappreciated because of the wages we’re paid,” says Ms. Logan. Since their last raise three years ago, cost of living has gone up and the excessive workloads have not changed. “That can be discouraging,” she says of how hard her team and she works to keep Esteban’s five academies clean and functioning while understaffed, versus how much they earn.
This walk-a-day was an important step in the right direction in our ongoing contract negotiations with LAUSD. Our Bargaining Team wants to ensure negotiations continue to be solutions-oriented and we strongly believe the best solutions come from seeing and understanding problems first-hand. Kudos to Mr. Khoury for setting an example for his colleagues.