UCSD Ends Bergensons Contract

UCSD’s eight-year relationship with Bergensons Property Services, a company that provides janitorial services for the university, will end in September.

The university’s contract with Bergensons, which has been the focus of student and union campaigns to achieve increased pay, benefits and representation for janitors employed by the company, will not be renewed when it expires at the end of September.

The agreement guarantees employment with UCSD’s Physical Plant Services to Bergensons employees who worked at UCSD under the old contract.

As UCSD employees, the janitors will be represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299. The AFSCME represents nearly 2,400 employees on campus and at the medical centers.

Once hired by UCSD they will be paid between $9 and $12 per hour. Also, workers will receive medical benefits, vacation time and holidays off. Additional skills training will also be provided by the university.

A former Bergensons employee who was fired after she attempted to organize workers, Alejandra Rodriguez, will be rehired as a result of the agreement. The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled in her favor regarding the incident.

Bringing the jobs in-house will cost the university money, but the benefits of direct supervision of the employees and their duties are said to outweigh monetary loss.

“”Our decision to bring this work in-house is solely based on our desire to directly influence and manage employment issues in accordance with the university’s particular employment practices,”” said Assistant Vice Chancellor of Auxiliary and Plant Services Jack Hug in a statement issued to the UCSD community.

The contract expires Sept. 30. By this time, the transition is expected to be complete.

“”It will progress throughout the summer as we would like to complete the conversion before then,”” said PPS Manager John Stevenson.

Stevenson declined to comment further, as did representatives of Bergensons and UCSD officials, until the situation is fully resolved.

More than 60 workers are affected by the agreement. Bergensons wishes to retain its employees, as stated in a letter from UCSD’s Human Resources Division to the AFSCME.

“”I expect there will be a fair amount of people who will take advantage of this opportunity,”” said AFSCME Local 3299 Organizer Melissa Hall. “”These are workers who fought very hard to have rights on the job and a better work life.””

Students for Economic Justice said the agreement is a victory for the janitors. SEJ raised awareness on campus of the janitors’ plight through rallies and protests. Some members of the group were arrested for civil disobedience during a June 1 demonstration.

“”It is really a good deal for the janitors,”” said SEJ member Fatima Padojino. “”All of them are getting a raise.””

The university maintains that the decision to bring the jobs in-house is separate from the accusations of wrongdoing by SEJ, the Service Employees International Union and the AFSCME.

“”Our reasons for bringing this work back in-house are numerous, but are not related to the allegations of improper conduct by Bergensons,”” Hug said in the statement.

Padojino said he disagrees.

“”I don’t think the university would have agreed without the public pressure campaign,”” Padojino said. “”We emphasized the exploitation at a public university.””

“”It’s been wonderful working with all of the students. The bring a perspective which is very valuable,”” Hall said. “”People have wanted to be involved, they all cared about the employees.””

San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza helped broker the deal, which was reached June 14.

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