WESTFIELD, MA –The MBTA Board of Directors voted today to award cleaning contracts that would eliminate an estimated 30 percent of the MBTA’s cleaning staff, reducing it from the current level of 315 janitors to 225 janitors next year. Certain work areas, which include much of the Red Line and the Silver Line, would experience layoffs of almost 50 percent of janitors; and the cuts disproportionately eliminate full-time jobs that provide health coverage.
Roxana Rivera, SEIU Local 615 Commercial Division Director addressed the Board in Westfield before the vote, saying, “Our concerns are not just about the impact these cuts would have on workers, but also on the quality of the MBTA’s cleaning services. The basic question is: how can such excessive cuts be made while keeping the same level of cleanliness? This is labor-intensive work, and we strongly believe that it is wrong to assume that current standards can be maintained with such massive staffing cuts.
Luis Medrano, who has worked as a contracted janitor for 15 years, also addressed the MBTA Board to describe the challenges of his job: “I have had to remove excessive garbage (sometimes dumped by area restaurants) and had to clean elevators full of excrement, vomit and blood constantly throughout my shift. How will all of this kind of work get done with fewer workers?”
“After the vote, Rivera said “This calls into question the Commonwealth’s fundamental commitment to good jobs and a strong economy.” Adding, “This isn’t over. We’ll be taking this fight to the street and to the state.”