The Faculty Senate Steering Committee

Gainesville, Florida 32611

A. Joseph Layon, MD, Senate Chairman, 2000-2001

Voice: 352.395.0486 [Office]

352.336.0266 [Home]

FAX: 352.338.9812


Richard Briggs, PhD, Senate Chairman-Elect, 2001-2002

James Pettigrew, DMD, Immediate Past Senate Chairman, 1999-2000


Alexander Alberro, PhD, Art and Art History
Leilani Doty, PhD, Neurology
Jonathan F. Earle, PhD, Engineering
Rosalia C. Simmen, PhD, Animal Science
Kim M. Tanzer, Architecture
Gayle M. Zachmann, Romance Languages

Richard Ragan, Senate Secretary

Barbara Talmadge, University Registrar

June 8, 2000

David O'Brien
Director, Physical Plant Division
University of Florida
P.O. Box 117750

Dear Mr. O'Brien:

As you are aware, on April 27th the Faculty Senate created a Task Force to further examine the proposed custodial service shift change. This Task Force was initiated with the intent of clarifying some of the issues you and Alberta Hopkins raised during the April 27th Senate meeting. As faculty, we share your concern for the welfare of all employees within the University of Florida family.

During the last several weeks, the Task Force (1) met with you, Dug Jones, Ed Poppell, and Gerald Schaffer on May 24th, (2) met with Sharon Bauer and representatives of the custodial service on May 26th, and (3) reviewed materials forwarded by Dug Jones regarding the custodial service survey results and facilities bench marking project.

In light of the information obtained, we have several concerns regarding the proposed custodial service shift change. Of primary relevance are process issues related to communication, participation, and trust. In its collective effort to both respond to the concerns brought to us by custodial workers and to provide the Physical Plant Division with useful feedback, the Task Force provides the following recommendations:

1. State more clearly (and operationally) the problem that the custodial service shift change is intended to resolve. During the last six weeks, the Task Force has heard that the proposed shift change was designed (a) as a continuation of a previously developed and phased plan, (b) to respond to customer demands for earlier service to classrooms, (c) to respond to financial constraints, (d) to increase coverage area per custodial worker, and (e) to be more consistent with other institutions in the State University System. There is considerable misinformation about the specific reason for the shift change and this should be addressed by openly specifying the primary reason for the change.

2. Once the problem has been openly and clearly stated, hold an open forum in which participants can provide their input regarding possible solutions to the stated problem. Involving staff more completely in such discussion may yield important short- and long-term benefits. Moreover, people, in general, are more likely to embrace change when they (a) understand the nature of the problem being evaluated and (b) have a voice in the change process. It is imperative that such a forum be open and involve staff, management, union, and faculty representatives.

3. Survey custodial workers who currently work the night shifts to ascertain their perceived benefits and limitations of working nights. While preserving the anonymity of respondents, the information collected should be made available to all custodial workers as they contemplate volunteering for such a schedule change.

4. Implement the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for night shift workers. The CDC has examined the potential deleterious effects of night shift work and has developed very specific guidelines for reducing the likelihood of such sequelae. Immediate implementation of these guidelines for current night shift workers would likely lead to subsequent improvements in their physical and emotional well being.

5. Conduct a cost-analysis of the proposed custodial service shift change. It seems imperative that a prospective and comprehensive analysis be done before implementation.

6. Clearly state the intended plan if not enough workers volunteer to move to nights. This answer to this question has important implications regarding issues of trust and perceived coercion.

It is our intention to provide the Physical Plant Division with recommendations that will be useful in resolving existing conflict, misattribution, and distrust around the proposed custodial service shift change. As faculty, we care deeply about our colleagues who provide highly valued custodial services for the University of Florida. To the extent possible, we will continue to work collaboratively with you to enhance the process of communication and change inherent in the Physical Plant Division. We await your response to our suggestions.


Professor James Rodrigue AJ Layon, MD,

For the Faculty Senate Task Force Professor of Anesthesiology, Surgery

on Custodial Service Shift Change and Medicine,

Chairman, UF Faculty Senate

Xc: Professor Jean Larson
Professor Barbara McDade
Professor Nora Alter

Dug Jones

Gerald Schaffer

J.E. Poppell

Sharon Bauer

The Senate Steering Committee

Provost David R. Colburn

President Charles E. Young