Campus custodians may receive first raise in three years hout increase

Daily Sundial

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At 3 a.m., Physical Plant Management custodial worker Bobby Douglas begins his workday at CSUN. Cleaning the restrooms and mopping the floors are part of his job.

Although Douglas said he likes working at CSUN, he said he is not satisfied with his pay, since he has not received a raise in three years.

“I feel it’s a slap in the face,” Douglas said. “The college is getting more students every year, but the pay is still the same. It just doesn’t add up.”

However, this could change if California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reaches an agreement with the state Legislature over the revised state budget.

The CSU system would receive $212 million more under the proposed 2005-06 budget, including a potential 3.5 percent compensation pay raise for PPM workers, along with all CSU employees.

It will be the first pay increase in three years.

Tom Brown, director of P.P.M., said he is happy to hear raises may be given to CSU employees. He said P.P.M. workers have communicated concerns about not receiving pay raises, but that workers are not motivated to work solely in hope of receiving a raise.

“I know it’s been tough to go without pay increases,” Brown told some P.P.M. workers at a meeting.

“There’s no resentment, but do we communicate and share our feelings? Absolutely,” Brown said. “Occasionally they say, ‘You know, it’s tough.’ People do want, and certainly deserve, salary increases, (but) it’s not their most motivating thing in the world.”

Most of the employees who work at P.P.M. appreciate what they have in terms of pay, said Lynn Wiegers, associate director of P.P.M.

Wiegers said he was glad to know workers will be receiving increases, noting that the understaffed crew of about 300 deserves them.

The way P.P.M. workers do their jobs is admirable, Wiegers said.

Wiegers also said the P.P.M. workers are almost invisible while on the job.

“As long as a custodian is doing his or her job, they’re very transparent to other people,” Wiegers said. “Nobody notices what we do until we don’t do it.”

Brown said that in the past, when pay increases could not be given to workers, the workers would receive other benefits.

‘The norm is that there’s an adjustment every year,” Brown said. “A lot of times, what happens is when there (are) budget crunches, the best they can (do) is (give) more benefits. (However), this should translate to a pay increase.”

Douglas, who has worked at CSUN for 28 years, said he has no resentment toward P.P.M. or CSUN for him not receiving a raise.

“I feel we’re appreciated,” Douglas said. “They always compliment us on how well the campus looks.”

However, workers at PPM are still underpaid, Douglas said.

Valerie Hughes has been working at P.P.M. as a Facilities II worker for 10 years, and said she is happy about the potential raises, but thinks workers should still earn more.

“Anything is a help,” Hughes said. “(But) rent and (the) cost of living (is) constantly going up and wages are staying the same, and they’re not hiring anybody.”

Hughes, who usually starts work at 5 a.m. to work a 10-hour shift, said she likes her job, but said she blames the past three years without a raise on Schwarzenegger.

Brown said a few P.P.M. workers had to be let go due to budget cuts.

Gary Chacon, Hughes’ co-worker who has been working with P.P.M. for 19 years, also said he agrees that P.P.M. workers should receive higher pay.

“Custodial (is) the most understaffed (department) on campus,” Chacon said. “It’s a great job (though).”

The exact pay increase each worker may receive varies according to how much he or she earns, Brown said.

“We’re maybe more pleased that our employees are (possibly) getting a raise than they are because we hold them in high regard,” he said.