Labor activists will rally to oppose privatization of custodial work in Hillsborough Schools

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Centralize. Do Not Privatize sign
Custodians in Hillsborough County Schools protest against a proposal to privatize cleaning services. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (2 April 2019).
Save Our Custodians sign.
Custodians in Hillsborough County Schools protest against a proposal to privatize cleaning services. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (2 April 2019).

The Hillsborough County Public School Board is studying the idea of turning over work that’s now done by unionized custodians to a private company instead.

But activists who want to stop the privatization before the idea gets too much traction are holding a rally Friday afternoon.

Megan Flocken is a Hillsborough County public high school teacher and President of West Central Florida Future Labor Leaders.

“The issue of the custodial staff is the issue that is reverberating around the country, which is the struggle to preserve, fund and perfect our public institutions versus private enterprise interests. Tampa right now is a site of the struggle within Hillsborough County because the Hillsborough County Public Schools Board has announced that they are shopping around to privatize custodial services.

“This custodial workforce is 1,600 people within the county who are unionized. They do, though, make an average of $24,000 a year. Certainly, then, the impacts of this privatization would impact more than just this workforce. They’d impact all of the education professionals: teachers, paraprofessionals and the parents and the students who rely upon these folks to keep their schools clean and safe.”

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The “Rally for Workers’ Rights: Protect our Public Employees” will be Friday at 5:00 p.m.in front of the HSEF union hall at 5126 North Florida Avenue in Tampa, near the corner with Hillsborough Avenue.

They also plan to protest the day of the next School Board meeting. It’s next Tuesday in downtown Tampa. There’s a protest scheduled for 9:00 a.m. and the meeting starts at 3:30 p.m.

Hillsborough voters recently passed a sales tax increase to help fund public schools. But last week the Florida House passed a bill that would require districts to share funds like that with charter schools. The details are still being hammered out as the Legislative session ends, but it looks like a final version may only apply retroactively to Miami-Dade County.

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