Rooted in custodians' lived experiences, these are the recommendations that emerged from conversations with staff during Fall 2020 through the UW Custodian Photography Project:
Increasing Access to personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 vaccines, and free parking.
Providing Space for custodians to spend their breaks and give feedback on a regular basis.
Strengthening Operations by working towards:
Centering Equity through ensuring language access and providing custodians with hazard pay AND a livable wage!
Shifting Culture to foster community acknowledgement, appreciation, advocacy, and respect for UW custodians.
Beyond these advocacy steps, custodians shared what they want you to know about their work.
Supporting Custodians at UW & Beyond
Custodians need employers and policymakers to ensure social and racial equity with the following investments and changes:
- Offer hazard pay and a livable wage ($15 per hour, or even more in expensive localities).
- End the custodian gender wage gap by ensuring equal pay across genders.
- Offer public transit subsidies, or offer free parking in regions with poor access to transportation and limited affordable housing.
- Ensure safety from COVID-19 infection, including access to effective personal protective equipment and vaccines and enforcement of universal masking policies.
- Offer opportunities for rest and rejuvenation, including adequate break rooms.
- Provide ergonomic equipment, such as lightweight, height-adjustable mops, proper harness fittings for vacuum backpacks, protection from harmful chemicals, and comfortable shoes.
- Offer paid sick leave for vaccination, symptoms of ill health, COVID-19 testing, and caregiving duties.
- Offer affordable, flexible child care.
- Offer high-quality, accessible health care.
- Protect workers from discrimination and harassment by creating a culture that promotes respect and psychological safety for all workers. Even with those changes, workers need avenues for voicing concerns to managers without fear of retaliation. UW recently launched a bias incident reporting tool where employees can anonymously make such reports. This promising solution should be available to custodial and other low-wage workers everywhere.
- Offer robust access to interpretation services and translation of health and work-related materials.
- Have ongoing safe, respectful conversations with custodians to co-create solutions that serve unique needs within their workplace context (e.g., better understand the immediate needs, supports, and obstacles faced by custodians, including those in our undocumented community).
Past Community Education & Actions
Evalynn continues to raise awareness of UW custodians’ work and their role in our health and wellness. Some of her recent efforts have included:
- Presentations to UW Building Services leadership and management to create a partnership with the goal of supporting custodians in the best way possible.
- Uplifting a petition advocating for hazard pay to custodians and other essential workers at UW.
- Writing Op-Eds and leading a letter writing campaign urging Governor Jay Inslee to include custodians in Phase 1B, Tier 2 for vaccine eligibility.
- Collaboration with the Wing Luke Museum to exhibit custodian photographs and stories in their exhibit Community Spread: How We Faced a Pandemic.
- Presentations in the community including an online event hosted by Grandmothers for Race and Class Equality (GRACE). View a recording of Evalynn's presentation below!