Short Staffing, Impossible Workloads

Deborah Hamilton remembers the exact day she started working as a Custodian at LAUSD: January 11, 1995. A lot has changed since that day 27 years ago.  The biggest difference, she says, is the drastic reduction in staff. “When I first started, I was in a crew of nine workers. Now, it’s only two and a half Custodians at my school.”

Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck is a Way of Life

Deborah Hamilton remembers the exact day she started working as a Custodian at LAUSD: January 11, 1995. A lot has changed since that day 27 years ago.  The biggest difference, she says, is the drastic reduction in staff. “When I first started, I was in a crew of nine workers. Now, it’s only two and a half Custodians at my school.”

0%
of LAUSD school workers said they do not feel their school or workplace has enough staff to fully and sufficiently complete work assignments.
Source: SEIU Local 99 LAUSD Bargaining Survey 2022, February, 2022

Even that seems like a luxury. For the last two years, Deborah worked alone except for the occasional substitute worker that was sent to help her. “I was by myself but I still had the pressure to complete what needed to be done. I had to clean 19 bathrooms, 35 classrooms, the whole school. It was impossible.” Not to mention safety concerns. As the lone custodian working the night shift, Deborah constantly worried about her safety.

A newly hired Custodian recently joined Deborah but it’s still not enough. New pandemic protocols for cleaning and disinfecting mean more time and training are needed but, she says, the district is not investing enough to keep up with these demands. “I do what I can, our staff is too short.” With increased workloads and low wages, Deborah says it’s hard to keep workers. “A lot come in and leave. They go find another job with the city or another school district or at a college.”

“In a couple of years I’m gone,” says Deborah as she contemplates retirement. Without significant changes to retain and recruit more Custodians, she wonders how schools will be kept clean. “It’s not like it used to be.”

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