Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dirty Schools!

Elementary School Blasts Aramark's Dirtiness
By Jim Vail

At a local school council meeting at one elementary school in the city this week, parents, teachers and LSC members blasted Aramark for a dirty school.

The tumultuous meeting pretty much summed up the experiences in Chicago public schools across the city. Since this corporation won the bid to clean hundreds of schools, the schools are dirtier.

It's so bad that the president of the principal's association constantly takes to the TV news shows to blast Aramark for not cleaning the schools.

At the LSC meeting this week (the school is not named) the parents made a power point presentation that showed how most parts of the school are dirty, including the cafeteria where the children eat.

This was not a problem before Aramark won the contract to clean the school, the parent noted.

The primary teachers complained that the rugs and the floors are dirty and that is where the children spend a decent part of their days when they gather for lessons or hear a story being read.

Aramark representatives, including a community relations person, stated that they commissioned a third party to ascertain that the school increased in its cleanliness ratings.

One parent replied that Aramark itself should be present with the school instead of hiring an outside firm to determine if the school is any cleaner.

The school LSC also noted that the number of janitors cleaning the building was cut from four to two.

One of the janitors said it looks like she is doing a lousy job based on how dirty the school is, but the fact is she is working overtime, cuts her lunch periods short in order to attend to emergencies and other cleaning demands.

Aramark also stated that it is the Chicago Public Schools fault. However, it was Aramark that won the contract with the stipulation that it would clean the schools based on the bid price.

It appears that Aramark is doing the classic corporate crisis management response to the outcry from the schools about dirty schools.

At the LSC meeting, the company introduced one of their top chefs who made an Asian salad and pinto beans that was served in small cups. They said they are focused on a healthy school via their food service.

They have also been sending their managers, replacing and perhaps firing others, out to the schools to deal with the crisis in the schools.  

For example, I have met with various reps after I filed a grievance based on the uncleanliness of the school. They told me it is all about 'efficiency' and that they want to make sure they have the right workers who can clean in a certain time period.

This efficiency concept is very stressful, perhaps impossible, but is being replicated in corporate settings across the country. For example, Amazon warehouse employees are expected to retrieve orders in a certain time period that leaves no room for error or real life bumps.

So it is in our schools where our depleted maintenance staff are expected to clean rooms in a 7 minute (or something like that) time period.

Of course, if there was a spill, or an emergency - is that taken into consideration? 

The company officials' line is you will not get more janitors and hey, why don't you also make sure the classroom is clean so the janitors can finish their job.

Sure, how about our janitors reciprocate and test some kids so I can actually teach.

This is privatization.

This is going back in time to no worker rights or decent conditions.

And this will continue if we do not fight back!

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