Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

NEIU Independent

Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

NEIU Independent

Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

NEIU Independent

NEIU Eliminates Overnight Cleaning

Dan Maurer
Two janitor carts located in the second-floor computer lab in Lech Walesa Hall. The current schedule has the majority of BSW’s working in the morning.

In a memorandum sent to NEIU’s Building Service Workers (BSWs), Facilities Management Superintendent Wilfred Rivera announced that all BSWs would begin work at 5 a.m. starting April 1, 2024. According to sources within Facilities Management, the new BSW shifts will start from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a second, smaller shift of only two BSWs working from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. A single floater BSW will work from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

NEIU also laid off five BSWs, including at least three NEIU students. NEIU’s BSWs are represented by the Teamsters Local 700 union.

This means that there would be no BSWs present to clean any spills that may occur for seven hours, until the next shift starts at 5 a.m. the next day. Even after operating hours, staff and students still regularly remain at the school performing work or studying.

In the Facilities Management Superintendent’s memorandum, Rivera said, “Our primary goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations… These changes are driven by our commitment to optimizing our operations.” Rivera was promoted to superintendent approximately seven months ago, but is currently listed as Building Service Sub-Foreman in the NEIU online directory.

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Rivera said the new schedule was to address challenges such as “adequate coverage during absences” and “uneven distribution of workload.” In the memorandum he also said, “I encourage our team to embrace these changes and work together to achieve our common goals of excellence in cleanliness at the University.”

In a testimonial presented to Facilities Management, Jonathan Gronli, Vice President of NEIU’s Civil Service Council, a NEIU double-alum, former editor-in-chief of the Independent and a current Senior Library Specialist at NEIU, said that overnight BSWs do more than just clean overnight. In his time as a student at NEIU from 2003-2013, Gronli said, overnight BSWs alerted staff and students staying late to a “major” mercury spill and identified a fire in the library mechanical room in 2005.

In recent years, as a librarian at NEIU’s Ronald Williams Library, Gronli said that overnight BSWs had found storm flooding, overflowing toilets, ceiling leaks that could have damaged expensive textbooks and stragglers who had attempted to hide in the building after closing. One straggler identified by overnight BSWs, Gronli said, had a harassment complaint from a library worker who usually opens the building in the morning.

“If that’s the effect that overnight BSWs have for the library,” Gronli said, “I can only imagine what other overnight BSWs catch and report in any of the other buildings.”

The Independent reached out to Rivera and Associate Vice President of Human Resources Abby Murray, asking for a reason for the change. Murray directed the Independent to NEIU’s Communications Director, Chris Childers. Neither Rivera nor Childers responded to inquiries in time for publication.

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About the Contributor
Dan Maurer
Dan Maurer, News Editor
Dan Maurer is the News Editor for the NEIU Independent. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s in  Sociology at Northeastern Illinois University. He got his associates degree from the College of DuPage. His goal in life is to position himself to be able to speak truth to power and provide analysis and facts for informed decision making. He spends his time reading, listening to podcasts, and engaging with science-fiction media. He also hosts karaoke multiple evenings throughout the week.

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