NEW HAVEN — Public school cleaners in New Haven tonight asked the Board of Aldermen to support them in their fight for fair wages.
“Unlike custodians who work for the city, our employer has not provided us with any raises, healthcare, sick days or retirement benefits,” cleaner Arnold Hunter told the board. “We’re doing the same work for much less pay and no benefits. We are being treated like a second-class workforce.”
Hunter has worked for GCA Services Group as a contracted custodian in New Haven Public Schools since custodial services were outsourced two years ago. Custodians who clean the schools are paid between 25 and 30 percent less than custodians who work for the city.
“What’s worse, taxpayer money is being used to fund this unfair, two-tier system,” Hunter said. “The city is saving millions of dollars by privatizing our jobs, but many of my co-workers not only can’t afford to see a doctor when they’re sick, they can’t even afford to take the time off from work because they need the money.”
The cleaners asked the Board of Alderman to pass a resolution urging the school district to raise the floor on cleaners wages. Earlier in the day, the cleaners delivered a petition to Mayor John DeStephano Jr., asking for his support.
Hunter himself works two jobs to help put his daughter through college, he said, but many of his co-workers are supporting themselves and their families on the low wages they receive as part-time, contracted custodians.
“We’re not asking for anything that’s out of the reach of the public schools budget,” Hunter said. “We’re just asking to be brought to the same level of wages and benefits as the cleaners in City Hall.