Trade Tech Faculty to Administration: Clean it Up
By Evan Henerson
ï»¿A clean and safe campus is not simply a work perk. It’s a necessity.
Such was the message of a petition organized by Los Angeles Trade Tech faculty and submitted to the school’s administration. The petition was in response to numerous cleanliness, safety and infrastructure-related conditions that AFT 1521 members say need to be addressed in order to ensure a safe return to campus for faculty and students alike.
College administrators and petition organizers point to things like culinary services being forced to shut down because of sanitation violations, filthy or shuttered restrooms, and broken elevators that prevent students with disabilities from accessing higher floors. Some of these concerns likely needed addressing even before Trade Tech shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that some faculty staff and students are back on campus – even in a limited capacity – things like standing water or unusable restroom dispensers should not be ignored.
A total of 160 AFT 1521 members from all Trade Tech disciplines signed the petition, which asks for a series of operations and infrastructure-related improvements. These fixes fall under the “reasonable measures” of the District’s return-to-work memorandum of understanding (MOU), according to Guild representatives.
“While we recognize the hard work and best intent of so many during an extremely challenging time, management’s attention to health and safety at LATTC must improve immediately,” the petition states. “Your attention to the health and safety of the Trade Tech community is of critical importance.”
“We have old buildings on this campus, and we had staffing shortages prior to the pandemic, but it seems like those situations were exacerbated and there was a lot of neglect while we were away,” added Trade Tech Chapter President Joseph Guerrieri. “We came back to a campus that was not ready.”
In late September, Guerrieri presented the petition to Trade Tech President Dr. Katrina VanderWoude and school administration. He was pleased that the administration was willing to meet and hopes that there will be progress. Noting the numbers and the broad spectrum of Trade Tech personnel who signed the petition, Guerrieri said he was especially impressed by the union solidarity.
“I think there’s an opportunity, but we want to see results,” Guerrieri said. “It’s been really inspiring to see members reach out to their colleagues, encouraging them to read and sign the petition and recognize that this was a concern not just for themselves, but for the students.”
Iris Zelaya, local 1521 Contract Action Team (CAT) lead for Trade Tech, said she is aware of some of the post-COVID safety challenges faced by faculty and staff who are back in person. A member of the counseling department, Zelaya says her department will have to contend with maintaining distancing and having proper air circulation and ventilation.
“We’re all trying to get back to normal, but at the same time, we are all still dealing with this pandemic,” said Zelaya. “A lot of faculty, students, and staff have a lot of real concerns not just over their own health issues, but with members of their families and the people they take care of. We’re trying to protect the ones we love, and at the same time, we understand how important it is to get back on campus.”