Layoffs leave custodians buried in garbage

Carisa A. Dalton

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Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories on the impact of budget cuts on Bakersfield College.

Throwing away your trash may not seem like a big deal, but have you looked around lately? Bakersfield College’s campus is suffering from budget cuts and it’s showing. The handicap ramp, east of the Language Arts building, speaks for itself.

People have been throwing their trash on the ground instead of using any of the three cans nearby.

Due to budget cuts, 4.5 custodial positions were cut from the BC maintenance staff, leaving only 17 custodians and no student helpers. And another round of layoffs may leave the custodial staff left with four fewer people, according to Robert L. Day, director of auxiliary services and maintenance and operations for BC.

He, too, recognizes that there is a problem with custodial cuts and the increase of trash on campus. “Some of our custodians were cut this year, but it is still up to the people to pick up their trash. Sometimes, in the quad area, people will leave their food where they ate and walk off. It takes a couple of minutes to throw it away.”

He said custodians now have much larger workloads than before, with no immediate solution in the works.

Custodians say they are feeling the pressure to pick up the slack. With cleaning supplies being rationed and generic brands being used to sanitize, it makes their job a lot more difficult than usual, said one custodian who asked to remain anonymous.

Eddie Rodriguez, the facility custodial coordinator, explained how the cuts in his staff has hurt BC. He covers Student Services, Humanities and Campus Center.

“When people are absent, we try our best to work as a team and cover for that person. When we had a full team, we had five people and it would take us about three hours to clean those facilities. It was organized and we’d switch off duties. Now with the budget cuts and layoffs, it’s been pretty difficult for us.

“It would help if administration would come and see, that way, they’d know what we really need and what is going on, so we can figure out a better plan.”

Custodian David Ramirez can see the change since the cuts.

“We just need more help,” he said. “It’s harder without the student helpers. We have to hire more custodians and really can’t afford to lose any more.”

Only one custodian, for example, is assigned to the cafeteria.

Food Service Manager Alex Gomez pointed out that cleaning the entire food facility is really too much for one person.

“If there was a spill at 1 p.m. in the cafeteria, there would be no custodian on duty until 2 p.m. to clean it up, so when that does happen, we have to stop what we’re doing and help,” he said. “There used to be five to eight student workers to help, but now there is no one to help.”