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Student Coalition Supports Housekeeper Union Contract Demands

Allegheny College housekeepers seeking hazard pay and PPE

November 4, 2020

Custodians, housekeepers, and cleaning staff across the country have been given additional tasks to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Some have received hazard pay and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform their work duties safely. Others are in the process of contract negotiations reviewing pay and PPE, among other issues. Housekeepers at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, who are members of the St. Moritz Building Services and Workers United Union, are in contract negotiations seeking protective gear, reports The Campus

St. Moritz Building Services hired new personnel and adjusted cleaning schedule assignments for housekeepers in the college’s residence halls due to additional disinfecting procedures put in place across the campus. Due to these enhanced duties, workers need additional cleaning equipment and PPE, such as masks and gloves, which they have been struggling to obtain. Some campus housekeepers have received extra pay, but not all of them. Therefore, hazard pay for all residence hall cleaners is also among the issues to be addressed in contract negotiations.

The housekeeper’s union has the support of Allegheny Coalition for Labor, a student-led group that works to promote respect and awareness of workers. “Students care about how the workers are treated because they hadn’t gotten increased pay in many years,” said Shula Bronner, co-chair of the coalition.

Allegheny students formed the coalition in 2016 during a previous round of contract negotiations to show their support for the workers. The coalition is active all year long, not just during contract negotiations, and has organized worker appreciation lunches for several years.

Beyond advocacy activities, the coalition is asking students to notice housekeepers and to thank them for their service.

“I think even just saying, ‘Thank you,’ if you see them around, saying, ‘Hi,’ or ‘Good morning’ [can help],” Bronner said. “Also making sure to take care of shared spaces [and] not leave them a mess on purpose because you know you’re not the one cleaning up.”

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