SEIU 99 and Custodians share their pay raise frustrations

Several custodians and Local 99 union representatives expressed their anger with the recent pay raise approved by the LACCD at Board of Trustees meeting on Wed. in the Great Hall at Pierce College.

Along with the custodians pay increase one other item on the agenda that caused some serious uproar was the eviction of the Pierce College Farm Center.

“President Burke said that the college ‘can no longer financially support this entertainment operation.’ Untrue, we pay all the expenses and provided 2.1 million for the campus,” director of the Farm Center Robert McBroom said.

The Asylum Productions signed an agreement at the beginning of this year to end the farm center operations and leave Pierce grounds by April 2015, according to president of the board of trustees Scott Svonkin.

“The college and the board remain committed to serving our students and the community with close attention to appropriate use of tax payer supported property,” Svonkin said.

Svonkin called for speakers to present their arguments on items from the agenda in front of the board and many were custodians from Colleges within LACCD who had been negotiating their contracts.

“We’re trying to ask for a livable wage and we presented a proper number back in July and two weeks ago and they came back with the same proposal they had in July,”  Valley College custodian Mark Ledesma said.

Custodians at LACCD are the lowest-paid of any community college district in the region, according to SEIU Local 99.

“The percentage doesn’t work for our members because they are the lowest paid,” internal organizer of SEIU Local 99 Diva Sanchez said.

Members of the SEIU Local 99 including custodian staff are paid 27 to 17 percent below the rest of the California Community Colleges in the area, according to Sanchez.

“All we’re asking for is a fair wage; just give us a fair wage.” Sanchez said.

LACCD custodians have double the work with half the staff to cover their assignments.

“We’re trying to see if we can shine a light on that through certain actions and activities,” Pierce College custodian Rudolfo Covarrudias.

Hoping that their oral presentations have made some impact on the board the custodians hope to see a reasonable pay increase in the near future.

“If we don’t get what we ask for we’re willing to go as far as we can,” Mission College custodian Irma Lopez said.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the Educational Services Center.