Custodians receive mixed treatment from students and district


Pictured above Amuchin Dann is cleaning the third floor women’s bathroom about an hour and a half after school. He is a night shift custodian who has worked at South for a few months. He has been treated well by students and staff and enjoys it here. Photo: Oliver Hall

Oliver Hall, Staff Writer

It’s common knowledge that custodians don’t have the easiest lives but not everyone seems to understand what makes their lives so difficult. Some custodians have reported receiving mistreatment from some students who have been completely reckless in not thinking about who has to clean up after them. They also face pay cuts and staff cuts from the district which only adds to their problems.

Richard Dziuk, the head engineer for South, described his treatment from students, “some treat me good or my staff good and there’s others that don’t treat us well.” Dziuk believes some students treat him poorly because,“it’s the mindset that when they see your uniform. [The students] automatically think that maybe you’re not educated or you shouldn’t be treated well.” He pointed out some examples of students treating him disrespectfully,  “[When] they leave the tables really dirty in the lunchroom or when they throw food on the floor they think that a human being doesn’t clean up after them like it’s an elf or someone else.” However, this is not universal. Dziuk explained how some students treated him well, “some kids treat us well they say ‘hi,’ they talk, they socialize and they’re considerate and they pick up after themselves.”

Dziuk’s statement is backed up by Amuchin Dann, who has been here for only a few months and is a night shift custodian who has had a pleasant experience at South thus far. Dann describes his treatment, “Nobody has ever been rude to me no one’s ever yelled at me. I go to classes, I get the trash, it’s cool.” Dann explained he has been treated very nicely by students and people in the main office, “They are really nice people. they help me with whatever I need. Whatever I wanna do I talk to them. If they can do it they do it if there’s time. that’s one of the main reasons I like it here because everybody treats me good.” George Mikutowski, a night shift custodian described his treatment from the administration by saying “We get along. They know we’re short handed. They physically do help us move tables or whatever it is or offer to mop this or vacuum that.”

However for custodians the biggest problems come from the decisions of people outside of South who work for the district. Dziuk describes recent changes saying that his biggest issues are that “some of the engineers have taken pay cuts, substantial pay cuts of anywhere from 4-5 dollars per hour and have been reclassified so they’ve taken away the privilege of maybe operating the boilers and have been reduced to just cleaning.” Engineers who operate the boilers and do other tasks like this are paid more.

Mikutowski went more in depth about the damage that the Minneapolis public school district has done to custodians. “We used to work on the boilers and fan units and change filters but that has gone to some other people. Supposedly we don’t do that and supposedly that gives us more time to do things around here.” Their jobs have been divided among them so they’re not all doing the same work, with many of their tasks going to district engineers. the impact of this is increased with the drastic changes in staffing have just made their jobs more difficult.

Mikutowski said “We’re so short staffed we barely can get what’s asked of us and then when you have someone thats sick or on bereavement or whatever the reason somebody doesn’t show up we somehow have to cover their area, and it’s really impossible to get it all done so that’s part of that. We can’t keep up, not enough bodies and they won’t help us out with overtime.”

Because of the low amount of money that the district gives the custodial system the custodians don’t have enough time or pay to do the amount of the work that has been thrust upon them. Some custodians are more than willing to express their beliefs that if the district continues down this road the way our school looks and is managed will go downhill. The workload has increased as the pay has lowered and and if changes aren’t made to the custodial systems it’s likely the problem will only become worse as time passes. While some engineers may have different experiences many they are still understaffed and overworked.

Mikutowski believes these changes are being made, “because the bean counters up at Davis center don’t know how to count their beans they went 29 million in the hole last year it’s their fault. I bet they didn’t take a cut in pay like I did.” He continues, “They screwed up so the little guys are payin’ for it.”