TOP 10 MANAGEMENT LIES ABOUT THE NIGHT SHIFT
1. "It only involves about 40 people."
When fully implemented, this plan will affect hundreds of African-American women starting at under $13,000 per year. For 18 months, management said their long-range plan was to move 80% of staff to nights over a two-year period; in an April letter to AFSCME, they said it was 75%; in the June 13 Alligator, they said it was 65%. In the April letter, they said that Phase II (Phase I was a pilot project begun in 11/98) was scheduled to begin July 1 with 40 people; in the Alligator, they said that it was 34 people beginning August 14. Regardless of the final number, it's costly and inhumane.
2. "It's voluntary."
Employees in the pilot project didn't volunteer; they were told that their buildings were going to night shift and weren't given any choice. Although night shift isn't currently mandatory, management told the Faculty Senate that it might become mandatory when they run out of volunteers. Since our survey showed that 92% of employees were opposed to the night shift, management can't possibly move 80% of them voluntarily. We believe they've already exhausted the pool of volunteers.
3. "If employees don't want to go to nights, they can keep the same shift in a different building."
Employees don't get to keep the same shift. Under the new schedule, the majority of staff work 11pm-7:30am, and the rest move from 5am-1:30pm to 7am-3:30pm. Management says the two day shifts are the same, but many employees will no longer be home for young children arriving before 3:30 or will lose jobs that begin before then. Also, moving to a different job in a different building with a different supervisor and coworkers is a significant change, especially for groups that have worked together for years and whose customers don't want them to leave and be replaced by strangers-usually untested new hires or people having problems in their current job who are willing to move to nights to get out.
4. "It's important that most classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, etc. be ready at 8 a.m."
Employees currently begin work at 5 a.m. to cover areas needing earlier service. Management told the Faculty Senate that they hadn't done any study of building scheduling needs but had a "sense" that requests for earlier service were increasing.
5. "Night shift employees get a salary increase of 10%."
Anyone working nights gets 10% shift differential. These employees also have their workload increased from 22,000 to 25,000 square feet despite research showing that people are naturally less productive and more accident prone at that time of day. Custodial workers at UF start at under $13,000/yr, $2,000 less than custodial workers at other state agencies. Shift differential doesn't even give them parity with other state workers, let alone compensate them for the increased workload or make up for lost second jobs.
6. "It's financially necessary, they clean less space per sq ft than other universities."
Only 19 of the 58 other universities responded to the AAU survey, and management told the Faculty Senate they didn't know whether those were public or private, or comparable to UF in job requirements, salary, or any other way. The survey's conclusions said that UF had lowered its cost per square foot since the last survey but could save additional money by reducing its ratio of supervisors to employees, the second highest in the survey. In response to AFSCME's public records request, management said they had no studies, calculations, reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, or other records to back up their estimate of $250,000 in savings through the shift change. They just pull numbers out of the air.
7. "Although the last experiment with night shift failed, it's going to work now because of better supervision."
More supervisors isn't going to reduce the cost of lighting and heating/cooling buildings that aren't currently open from 11-7, the primary reason why the last experiment was deemed a failure after about a year, along with increased absenteeism and theft. We're unable to evaluate utility use during the pilot project, since management responded to our request for utility data last fall by giving us records for the year ending 8/98--three months before the pilot project began. We've also made public records requests for Building Services' files on the night shift and for the UF e-mail directory that's on the web, and the administration's refused to comply, in violation of the Public Records Law.
8. "Response to the pilot project was clearly positive."
They based this conclusion on a survey sent to one customer in each of 18 buildings, with no input from custodial staff. They only asked whether the service at night was satisfactory, not whether it was better on days or whether customers had a preference. While saying night service was satisfactory, about half of respondents wrote in comments indicating a preference for days.
9. "We're not aware of any safety incidents, child care problems, transportation problems or health effects on the pilot project. Night shift is safer and more convenient because of closer parking with no decal."
The fact that management is unaware of problems doesn't mean they don't exist. They told the Faculty Senate they'd never asked the employees how it has affected or will affect them (unlike AFSCME, which has surveyed employees). According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, the health effects are long-term (5 years).
10. "This is what our customers want, for services to be provided 'transparently.'"
Management told the Faculty Senate that they didn't consult their customers or employees about this change, only managers of private cleaning services and other SUS custodial services; when customers contacted them to object, management told them, "Don't worry, we know best, you'll like this better."