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Housekeepers voice ongoing frustrations with working conditions

February 7, 2020

On Wednesday, a group of students, faculty and housekeepers, along with local union organizers, delivered a letter to members of the administration critiquing working conditions. The letter was delivered to the Office of the President, the Office of the Treasurer and the Office of Facilities Operations and Maintenance.

The letter demands that the College provide better conditions for housekeepers, specifically calling for the College to hire more workers and purchase more and better equipment. It also contends that the recent wage increase “does not go far enough to address the problems we’re experiencing recruiting and retaining staff.”

To Housekeeper Tracey Taylor, there is a difference between what the administration says and how they act.

“They say they want to be a team, but they don’t listen to what we say,” said Taylor.

Housekeeper Sherry Cousins expressed her frustration with the administration.

“It’s been a long time we’ve been putting up with working hard and not really being appreciated for it,” she said. “We don’t have enough staff. When we’re short … we have to do double time and then our buildings get behind, and then we get in trouble.”

“President [Clayton] Rose has received the letter. Since it came from some of the housekeepers, the College will be responding to them directly,” Director of College and Media Relations Doug Cook wrote in an email to the Orient.

The group who delivered the letter included the president of the Maine chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Cynthia Phinney and Jeff Segars, a local union member currently employed at Bath Iron Works (BIW). Segars expressed his solidarity with the worker’s demands.

“I heard about this and came down to support the housekeepers … we all need a better living and good wages. That’s why I’m here to support them,” he said.

Seagars worked for the Bowdoin groundskeeping crew 20 years ago while on strike from his job at BIW.

“Three of [us] came down from BIW, and back then … we were making $10 an hour … and the people had been here [for decades] were only making a few dollars more than us,” Segars said. “It was disgusting really … and I don’t know much about the wages now, but it doesn’t sound much better.”


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