Protesters rally against bid to contract out work at Coppin

Custodians won't be fired, college's president says

May 18, 2001|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

About 50 people rallied at Coppin State College yesterday to protest the school's possible move to contract out custodial work on the West Baltimore campus.

None of the 18 workers who might be affected turned out for the rally. It was organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the unions hoping to represent university employees when they gain collective bargaining rights July 1.

"These people are part of the Coppin family," AFSCME organizer Lloyd Williams said of the housekeepers. "They want and deserve their jobs.

The Rev. Douglas Miles, representing Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, addressed his remarks to Coppin State's president. "Calvin Burnett, you have got to be ashamed," he said. "You know where we came from, the struggles we endured."

Reached later by telephone, Burnett said the school is looking at a private firm for a new dormitory building only. But union officials provided a copy of Coppin State's request for proposals that states the school is looking for a contractor "to provide daily housekeeping services for all usable interior space of 11 buildings located at Coppin State College."

Burnett agreed that the proposal includes that language. "We want to look at all our options, but I have no intention of firing any housekeepers," he said.

Charles Whitley III, an account manager at the school who was at the rally, said many employees were afraid of being singled out as union activists.

Burnett denied that, saying, "Some people on this campus are in your face all the time about these issues. So why would they be afraid to show up at a rally? It doesn't make sense."

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