Staff members are not given winter break

Jamal Melancon

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Maintenance and cleaning staff members have less of a winter break and more of three days off on the winter calendar because they were still required to work with students off campus.

The university was closed over the winter holiday from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4., according to the university’s human resources department. During this time, cleaning staffers employed by WFFFacility Services, a full-service facilities management provider that partners with educational institutions, were given half days off on Christmas eve and New Year’s eve and all day off on Christmas day and New Year’s day.

According to Bart Gomez, Loyola WFF maintenance director, employees had to use their vacation days if they wanted more time off.

“If they requested vacation, they were granted vacation, and it was approved without question,” Gomez said. “A lot of people did take advantage of their vacation, 15 to 20 people probably.”

Yvette Thomas is a maintenance staffer at Loyola who takes care of bathrooms, the Starbucks area in the Danna Center, and offices as well. She has been working at the University for over eight years and feels unsatisfied with the time she gets off while students are away over the winter break.

Thomas said WFF workers used to get nine days off, but she believes the policy changed in about the last two years. She said reasons given for the policy change involved buildings not being cleaned to expectation before the spring semester started. Workers now use most of those original nine days off they got to tidy up the inside of the university’s buildings instead.

“I feel like when the building’s so old, you can only do so much cleaning,” Thomas said. “It’s still going to look old.”

Gomez said the policy change applied to WFF facilities across the country.

“WFF has facilities all across the country, and we were in line with all the WFF facilities nation-wide, not just here,” Gomez said.

Ann Moss, WFF director of facilities operations, said reasons some physical plant workers do not get time off is to work on specific projects.

“Some have always had to work through breaks like electricians and people who test the fire alarms,” said Moss.

Kyra Woods, physics junior, was not aware of cleaning and maintenance staff working all through break.

“They could just come back the week before classes start and do all the cleaning then, instead of just working over the entire break,” Woods said.

Joyce Pittman is also a cleaning and maintenance worker who has been at Loyola for just about a year. She said nothing changed about her work schedule over winter break, except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve being holidays.

“I don’t have a problem with it myself,” Pittman said. “That’s what I’m used to.”

Pittman helps maintain the Monroe Library, whose employees are given two weeks off, from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4.

Hilary Gunnels, learning commons manager in Monroe Library, said she uses this time of year with students off campus to assess how well things worked in the library over the semester and to help her prepare for the upcoming semester.

“These quiet parts of the year really allow me to focus on the big picture of what we’re doing here at the library and plan and prepare for the semester ahead,” Gunnels said.

The library is a lot quieter with students on break, but Gunnels is still busy. She said she feels satisfied with the time she gets because it allows her to rest, visit family and recharge.

WFF maintenance and cleaning workers have to do the same in their two full days off during winter break.

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