Wittenberg University's Change In Housekeepers Spark Hunger Strike
Protests and concerns continue this week at Wittenberg University concerning the school's plan to replace its long time housekeeping provider, ABM. WYSO's Wayne Baker reports that the move has been meet with resistance on campus.
Baker: Wittenberg officials say the change in housekeeping services will will save the university $600,000 annually, a reduction of 40 percent in the cleaning budget which will help the university trim its current $7 million deficit.
B: John Paulsen of Wittenberg, says that the administration is trying to tackle budget problems and all departments on campus are subject to lose employees and resources.
"We've downsized staff in other areas as well, so it's not just the custodial arm that's facing this. Many departments have had to downsize as has mine. It's just difficult to see those changes in any form and this is just another one of those examples."
B: Wittenberg housekeepers offered to form a non-profit corporation in order to reducing costs to the university so they would be able to keep their jobs and current wages. The plan was denied by the university, which prompted Sociology Professor David Nibert to hold a hunger strike until the university accepts the housekeepers non-profit plan.
B: Wittenberg's Paulsen says that housekeepers can apply for positions with the new company, WFF, but the university will move forward with this change as well as other cuts.
"Change is difficult all the way around. And we've had a very good long-standing relationship with ABM and that work group for many, many years. I've been here for 25 years and know many of those employees for that length of time. So, it's a difficult time but that is just one of many things we are facing. We've looked at a number of other aspects of our business and have made significant changes or cuts in those areas as well."
B: Wittenberg plans to switch to the new housekeeping service on January 1st. For WYSO, I'm Wayne Baker reporting.