I sit at the front desk in my office in Peik Hall. There’s a women’s bathroom across the hallway. Last week, a woman came into my office with a pained look on her face that was a blend of shock, disgust and disbelief.
After looking at me for a few seconds, she finally said in a hushed tone that the women’s bathroom is not right. There’s poop all over the place — on the floor, on the walls — a lot of it everywhere.
I said I’d call someone to come deal with it. As I’m dialing the phone, I hear the guy who cleans in my building — a Teamster — rolling the cleaning cart toward the bathroom.
He’s already gotten word somehow, and he’s there with a “closed” sign already up on the bathroom door. He’s putting rubber gloves on and heading in to clean up the disgusting mess that someone left. He’s worked here for decades, cleaning up other people’s crap (among other things).
That’s his job. He’s the one who has to clean piles of excrement from bathroom surfaces so that students, professors and the rest of us who work here can go into a clean, usable bathroom. He’s one of the Teamster workers that the University of Minnesota administration is offering a less than one percent pay increase to in contract negotiations, after years of very little in increases during the economic downturn.
I commented to him that we should have called the University’s top administrators in to come clean up that bathroom, and while they were scrubbing the excrement off the walls, ask them to reconsider their wage offer to the Teamsters and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees workers in contract negotiations.
People whose jobs are to clean human excrement off floors and walls deserve all of our respect and thanks — and not just saying “thanks, man.” They need a real thanks, and that means getting paid a decent amount of money.
If administrators can’t find it within themselves to do that, I wouldn’t blame the Teamsters one bit if they were to refuse to clean up any more crap until the administration sees the light.