Tufts Students Protest Planned Janitor Layoffs

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More than 70 Tufts students protested proposed layoffs of janitors at the university Thursday afternoon.

The janitors are expected to lose their jobs at the end of next month — some full-time, some part-time — as the university seeks to cut costs.

According to a Tufts spokeswoman, the company with which the university contracts for janitorial services, DTZ, is cutting 20 or fewer positions at Tufts. The union representing the workers, SEIU Local 32BJ, says DTZ plans to cut 35 workers.

Students joined janitors and SEIU organizers in Davis Square, then marched back to campus. Tufts police arrested five students and an older man as protesters sat down on College Avenue. The arrests were made with the full cooperation of the protesters, and the students continued back to campus for a rally around the administration building.

"They've been putting efficiency over the livelihoods of very important members of our community," said junior Alison Sikowitz, one of the organizers of the protest. "We think that the janitors who are currently working are already overworked."

"We believe these cuts to be unfair, inequitable," said David Ferrándiz, a sophomore.

Tufts projects that the layoffs will save it $900,000 a year.

Tufts says it discovered that it was paying more to clean its campus than other universities do.

"We've taken a pretty comprehensive look at all of our administrative costs, and this was one of the areas that we uncovered as having opportunity for us to reduce expenses and still deliver good service," said Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell in a telephone interview.

Campbell said the money Tufts saves will go to faculty, financial aid and academic support services.

Clarification: This post was updated to include the university’s estimate of potential job cuts.

This article was originally published on May 01, 2015.

This segment aired on May 1, 2015.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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