Florida School Custodians to Receive Shortchanged Pay, Arbitrator Rules

More than 1,000 past and present Duval County Public Schools custodians will receive an estimated $200,000 in back pay and benefits after leaders with AFSCME Local 2941 (AFSCME Florida Council 79) took legal action. According to arbitrator Jeanne Charles, employees were being unfairly stripped of years, sometimes more than a decade, of seniority by a district contractor. She ruled on the side of AFSCME members saying that since the workers were continuously employed by the district’s contractor they should have retained seniority and benefits. “HES [Facilities Management] violated the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) when it eliminated the seniority of the bargaining unit employees,” wrote Charles. 

“By HES Facilities Management eliminating original hire dates of the employees, this is a cost-savings to the employer and placed them at an unfair bidding advantage,” said Elton Brown, custodian, and President of Local 2941. “All bidders were required to accept the years of service of all employees, which governs their vacation and leave accruals and their health coverages.” 

The company took the position that all the workers were new employees, cutting their vacation, sick, and holiday pay, and eliminated their health insurance at the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the CBA has a Successor Clause which protected the employee’s pay and benefits. 

With the new vendor cutting wages and benefits, there are not enough people to do the job safely and not enough supplies, according to AFSCME Local 2941 Vice President Lora Patterson, a custodian in the district. “Because we are short-staffed, we have to increase the numbers of rooms that each person has to clean,” she said. “We couldn’t always do a thorough enough job and sometimes lacked basic protections of safety glasses, booties and gloves to keep ourselves safe.” 

Now these members will be receiving back pay for holidays, vacation, Paid Time Off and much more. It is another example of the AFSCME difference in North Florida!

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RelatedDuval County custodian union claims lack of PPE, staffing impact cleanliness of your child's school (Aug. 3, 2022)