Saturday, October 4, 2008

Demand letter concerning Yang Sook Choe's policies

Dear Gene Woodard, Charles Kennedy, Sattia Sear, Scott Spencer, and Human Resources,

We are writing this letter on behalf of custodians who have a concern with problems going on in our department. The main problem in the area we work is one of the mangers Yang Sook has been changing some of the rules unfairly.

For about 18 years we have had 15 minutes to go from our work site to where we clock out. We start 15 minutes before 5 AM. When we're trying to go home we are supposed to leave our buildings early enough to get to the clock station by 1:15 to punch out then. Now Yang Sook wants everyone in her two areas to stay in the buildings where we work until 1:20. There is a distance of up to 20 minutes of a walk to get to the clock station. The clock station is in South Campus. Some people work in upper campus, some work in Health Sciences. It takes a long time to get to the clock station. So Yang Sook is basically expecting us to work between 5 and 25 minutes overtime each day. We raised this with her and asked if we would be paid overtime for it. Yang Sook said we will not be paid overtime and she said we should just walk fast to make it to the clock station in time to punch out. We told her some people walk slower and won't get there in time. Yang Sook said those are excuses, and people should be able to get there on time. But some people have disabilities or injuries related to the overwork we regularly experience and that can make it difficult for us to jog to go clock out.

When the university changed people to dayshift they set up carpools because the parking situation is difficult during the day. With Yang Sook's changes though, everyone in a carpool will be ready to leave at a different time depending on how far we have to walk to clock out. Some people (who aren’t in Yang Sook’s 2 areas) will get out at 1:15 and people in Yang Sook’s areas will get out between 1:30 and 1:40. It will create a hostile environment for people and will cause fights because some people will be angry at others for having to wait for them, especially if they have to travel long distances to get home. We suspect managers are trying to divide and conquer us by creating this kind of hostile environment. Many of us have already given up our shift differential and our ability to drive our own cars because we were day-shifted and now we need to deal with this. This is not fair.

The second change is Yang Sook put up a set of rules saying we can't use any electricity for personal reasons. Those are rules from 15-18 years ago but we have had 3 contracts where rules have changed. She said no one can make coffee in the closets and no one can heat food. We have no way to heat our food or make coffee or tea. We need to go to the cafeteria to buy these things and it's too expensive. When we start work at 4:45 AM coffee is important. Why do professors and students get to heat up their own food and drink but we don't? Yang Sook has not been flexible and lots of us are getting mad. This is discrimination against employees of the university. Why do you treat us this way when we have been serving the university so well? If you didn't have us working as custodians you wouldn't have a functioning university so it is unfair for you treat us this way.

We are letting you know about this in the hope that you will make Yang Sook remove these new rules. It is a serious matter and we expect you to change the situation. We are trying to deal with this inside the University by speaking with you first. However, if you do not do something about it in one week, we will have no choice but to share this information with the public and we will let the public know how UW is discriminating against its employees, especially its lowest paid employees who are mostly immigrants and people of color.


International Workers and Students for Justice and our friends

Sept 28th, 2010

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