Source: Sherman Publications

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Handing over the keys

by Trevor Keiser

August 01, 2012

As a final punctuation to the controversy surrounding the privitization of Orion school’s custodial staff, the former janitors turn in their keys. Photo by T. Keiser
Custodians were filled with an array of emotions as they handed over their keys July 27, some had tears, but most had anger.

Rich Brown like most declined to comment.

"You couldn't print what I have to say," said Brown. Kevin King said he was ashamed.

"Not because I lost my job, I have an education I'll find another job," he said. "I'm ashamed of our board, I'm ashamed of our administrators the way they've dumped people and the way they've handled this. They've done it with a smile on their face. They disgust me."

As a taxpayer and voter he is upset because he believes he was lied to by some school board members who said "privatization wouldn't happen on their watch." King believes the district let the custodians go in order to save their own salaries, most of which he said are too high.

"If it's all about saving money and we're in a budget crisis then let's get rid of the high salaries at the board office and bring Kelly Services in," he said. "Instead of coming after the lowly people who are the lowest on the pay scale if we're all supposed to give and everything else how come they're not? We were willing to take a 20 percent pay cut."

King spoke highly of his fellow custodians, saying many worked on weekends for free or took money out of their pockets to buy paint simply because it needed to be done.

"They were there for the children they were there for the schools and they took pride in what they did," he said. "That's not going to happen no more,"

King said bringing in a private is brining in the unknown and he is concerned not only about the performance of the job, but safety of the children as well.

"They (the administration) said education comes first, but protecting the children should also come first. These parents and the citizens of this district trusted us at night no matter events were going on to be around their children," he added. "I believe now you're going to have nothing but thug in these buildings with poor background checks that aren't even real."

Even if he wasn't a custodian, King said he wouldn't support what's been done because it's "union busting" and he believes that's wrong.

"We truly were the better fit and they're going to find that out the hard way," he said.

Larry King agreed.

"They lost a great bunch of people," he said.

AFSCME Union President and custodian Kathy Sandstrom said she was proud because kept their work ethics right up to the end even knowing they were losing their jobs.

"We fought with dignity and we left with dignity."