By Owen Leitch
Unionized caretakers are not landing new contracts for custodial services in Ryerson’s new buildings, says a union executive from CUPE Local 233.
Ryerson is currently seeking bids from private companies to clean and maintain the new Heidelberg Centre School of Graphics Communication Management.
Before the building was even built the union inquired about who would be cleaning it, said the union representative, who asked not to be named.
“We asked long ago and they said they weren’t aware of the operating costs as of yet,” he said.
Now, the union executive said, those operating costs leave no room for unionized caretakers.
Linda Grayson, vice-president administration and student affair, insisted there was room on campus for both unionized and non-unionized custodial workers.
“We are very appreciative of CUPE caretakers. They are a hardworking and committed staff,” she said.
Grayson said that private workers have been on campus for 28 years, co-existing with unionized workers. The company responsible for a majority of private cleaning work is Miracle Maintenance.
The union fears that Ryerson is slowly moving towards private services. Unionized caretakers now operate only in Jorgenson Hall and Kerr Hall while all other buildings are maintained by contract workers.
Despite the rising number of students on campus, no new union staff have been hired since September 2000, said the union executive. As new buildings are added to the campus, private companies are picking up the new work.
“Guys are retiring and aren’t being replaced,” he said.
Private contract workers may be cheaper, he said, but not better.
“Their services are definitely not as good as ours,” he said. “People know us as the friendly guys in blue.”
Adding to the union’s sense of insecurity is the fact that their contract with Ryerson is up on June 30, 2003.
Linda Grayson said there is no reason for the in-house custodians to be alarmed.
“There is always anxiety around contract time,” she said.
Grayson deferred the question about whether CUPE would be involved in future deals for new buildings to Ian Hamilton, director of campus planning and facilities. Hamilton declined to comment.