Consistent, inconsistent custodial services

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Housekeeping contractor Linda Hernandez cleans a classroom along side a staffmember Feb. 1 at Gonzales. The staff members and contracters work along side eachother maintaining the campus. Photo by Noah Acevedo

Clean sweep

By Emily Garcia

Nine buildings at this college have custodians contracted through the company McLemore Building Maintenance Inc.

These buildings are Loftin Student Center, Gonzales Hall, Moody Learning Center, the chemistry and geology building, the student success building, Nail Technical Center, Chance Academic Center, the nursing complex and Oppenheimer Academic Center.

According to the contract, Level 3 custodial services of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators are provided to each building, but Alamo Colleges reserves the right to modify the APPA performance level for any custodial service area within a building, campus, or group within the terms of agreement.

Daily duties that must be accomplished while cleaning offices and classrooms according to the contract are emptying trash cans on APPA Level 2; straightening desks and chairs on APPA Levels 2, 3 and 4; cleaning marker boards, chalk trays and vacuum erasers on APPA Levels 2, 3 and 4; emptying pencil sharpeners on APPA Level 2; and spot sweeping floors on APPA Levels 2, 3 and 4.

Weekly duties while cleaning offices and classrooms according to the contract are vacuuming and spot cleaning carpeted floors on APPA Level 2, dust mopping and damp mopping hard surfaces on APPA Level 2, low dusting all furniture and countertops on APPA Level 2, wiping phone receivers with disinfectant on APPA Level 3, spot cleaning and spray buffing all hard surfaces on APPA Level 2, cleaning interior windows on APPA Level 3 and high dusting all horizontal surfaces above hand height on APPA Level 3.

Oppenheimer Academic Center

On the first floor of Oppenheimer Academic Center custodians are frequently changing, administrative assistant Yolanda Castañeda said Jan 31.

The tasks custodians are seen doing on that floor are sweeping, vacuuming, taking out the trash, and cleaning bathrooms, Castañeda said.

Castañeda was unsure how many custodians work in the building because the custodians are being frequently switched with custodians from other buildings.

“There are never familiar faces and whenever there is a mess we need cleaned, they don’t always clean it right away,” Castañeda said.

Despite the issues, the custodians do a good job keeping the general area clean on that floor, Castañeda said.

The custodians Castañeda has seen are contracted to McLemore.

On the second floor of Oppenheimer, one custodian is usually seen during the afternoon hours, peer adviser Antonio Botello said.

“I have seen them cleaning restrooms, taking out the trash, and they do a very good job,” Botello said.

The custodians are prompt with cleaning messes, Botello said.

The chair of the business, ACT, and criminal justice departments, Dr. Velica “Val” Calvert, has an office on the third floor of Oppenheimer.

Calvert has seen two custodians on the third floor, one in the morning and one in the evening.

“We are very happy with the job they do on this floor,” Calvert said. “They are just wonderful.”

Tasks the custodians are seen doing on this floor include vacuuming, dusting windows, cleaning the insides of windows and taking out the trash, Calvert said.

The evening custodian assigned to Oppenheimer wished to remain anonymous because the custodial manager told her not to give her name.

The custodian has been working at this college for two weeks and was unsure of daily procedures.

She was unaware if she was contracted to McLemore or hired by Alamo Colleges.

She was the only custodian on duty for the building.

Nursing complex

The first floor of the nursing complex has no problems with custodial services, Jacob Martinez, director of student conduct said.

The student conduct department has been moved to the nursing complex because of construction in Fletcher Administration Center.

Martinez has seen two contracted custodians, one in the morning and one in the evening.

The third floor of the nursing complex also has seen one contracted custodian in the morning and one contracted custodian in the evening.

“There was a custodian that worked in this building that had breast cancer, and she was wonderful,” secretary Anita Reyes said. “She does not work here anymore, but she was always very good at her job and taking care of us.”

Reyes has seen custodians in the building clean windows, desks and doors.

“The custodians always clean messes right away and do whatever the contractor asks of them,” Reyes said.

There are two custodians working the evening shift in the building, who are responsible for cleaning 91 classrooms before the end of their shift.

The average evening shift is 3-11:30 p.m.

The custodians in this building asked to remain anonymous.

The custodians are not granted vacations until three years of service, according to one of the custodians in the building.

This custodian has been working with the company for two years and three months and has yet to earn a raise from $8.50 an hour. That makes for an annual salary of $17,680, well below the poverty level for a family of four, $24,600. Both custodians were contracted to McLemore.

Chance Academic Center has the department of physics, architecture and engineering on the first floor.

Two contracted custodians are seen, one during the morning and one during the evening, a secretary said.

Two custodians are responsible for covering the first two floors, while another two are responsible for covering the second two floors, but because of a change of management, it is now believed only one custodian is responsible for the entire building, the secretary said.

According to the secretary, the custodians do not vacuum, dust or clean the windows from the outside.

The third floor of Chance has the biology program offices.

The custodians seen on this floor are not contracted, secretary Corina Canizales said.

Canizales has seen frequent new custodians for the building.

The morning shift has been seen cleaning offices, vacuuming, dusting and emptying trash, while the afternoon shift cleans the restrooms and classrooms, Canizales said.

The third floor of Chance has no problems with custodial services, Canizales said.

The Chance evening custodian asked to remain anonymous.

The custodian said one person is responsible for the first two floors, while another is responsible for the second two floors.

Together the two custodians must clean 37 classrooms and 22 restroom stalls.

Duties include mopping, sweeping, picking up trash, cleaning chalkboards, cleaning water fountains and vacuuming, the custodian said.

Nail Technical Center

The second floor of Nail Technical Center has one contracted custodian in the morning, student success generalist Cynthia Escatel said.

“The custodians we see are very respectful and always take out the trash, sweep, vacuum and clean the bathrooms,” Escatel said.

The custodians respond fast to messes that need cleaning, Escatel said.

The evening custodian of Nail Technical Center asked to remain anonymous.

There are two custodians responsible for the building evening shift and one responsible for the morning shift, the custodian said.

Both custodians working the evening shift in this building are contracted to McLemore.

The morning custodians in the building are responsible for cleaning offices and usually have less work to do, the custodian said.

She would like to change to the morning shift, but the morning shift is always covered by others, the custodian said.

Changes that would help the custodians keep the building clean would be to have more people working the evening shift, the custodian said.

Chemistry and geology building

An administrative assistant in the chemistry and geology building notices new contracted custodians every few weeks.

The custodians take out the trash, but the restrooms are not cleaned and the floors are not mopped, the assistant said.

Most of the cleaning that does take place in the offices is not done by the custodians, the assistant said.

The assistant also noticed many of the custodians do not speak English, which makes it difficult for non-Spanish-speaking faculty and staff to communicate with them.

The chemistry and geology building has one custodian in the morning and one in the evening, evening custodian Mark Gonzalez said.

During the evening, Gonzalez is responsible for mopping and cleaning classrooms, restrooms and offices.

Gonzalez said the floors in the building are waxed once a week.

Gonzalez is contracted to McLemore.

Employees in other buildings said their floors get waxed once before the start of every semester.

Moody Learning Center

On the seventh floor of Moody Learning Center, one contracted custodian is seen in the morning and another in the evening, said Bertha Ovalle, administrative student service specialist.

The employees who work on the floor are overall content with the custodians, but the work-study students do a lot of the cleaning, too, Ovalle said.

Ovalle has seen custodians take out the trash and clean the windows and the doors.

On the second floor of Moody, a librarian has seen a custodian in the evenings, but never in the mornings.

The trash cans are emptied and the offices are cleaned once a day, the librarian said.

The custodians on this floor have quick response times when called, the librarian said.

The evening custodians in Moody asked to remain anonymous.

The custodian on the first floor of Moody is responsible for the first and second floors.

Her duties include taking out the trash, mopping floors and cleaning windows and bathrooms.

The custodian responsible for the third through fifth floors has similar duties.

According to the custodians in this building, their job offers them no benefits or raises.

The custodians in Moody are contracted to McLemore.

Loftin Student Center

Loftin Student Center sees one custodian in the afternoon sweeping, cleaning windows, breaking down large boxes and mopping, an administrative assistant to student life said.

The evening custodian in Loftin asked to remain anonymous.

Duties she accomplishes during her shift are mopping, dusting and cleaning windows and restrooms, the custodian said.

The custodian is the only one responsible for cleaning Loftin during the evening, but the custodian was unaware Loftin extends farther than the student center.

Loftin also houses the journalism and photography programs.

The custodian is contracted to McLemore.

Gonzales Hall

In Gonzales Hall, administrative student services specialist Paul Sanchez has seen one contracted custodian in the morning and one in the evening.

“The custodians always do a great job,” Sanchez said. “They clean desks, take out the trash, clean the floors and always clean the restrooms.”

The custodians in this building are prompt and efficient with calls, Sanchez said.

The custodians in Gonzales are responsible for mopping and cleaning offices and classrooms, custodian Linda Hernandez said.

There are two custodians assigned to the building during the morning and evening shifts, Hernandez said.

Hernandez is contracted to McLemore; however, custodians hired by Alamo Colleges also clean the building.

Student Success Center

Despite three visits to the Student Success Center, no custodians were found in the building.

Gustavo Veliz, onsite project manager of custodians contracted to McLemore, said employees are cross-trained and change buildings every few months so all custodians know all the buildings.

“We clean your school as if it is your home because no one wants to be in a messy home,” Veliz said.

Select buildings are given more than one custodian per shift depending on the function of the building and when main cleaning is performed, during the first or second shift, said David Ortega, district facilities superintendent.


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