Media Advisory- University of Tennessee Custodians Fight Back Against Harassment, Abuse

"We want to inform the wider community about conditions in the department, and to call on the administration to make a commitment to improve them," said Josh Smyser, a Building Services employee and UCW member.  "At a public institution, this kind of bully culture is completely unacceptable, and the record shows that management is making it unbearable."

The department has seen an out flux of employees due to these poor conditions, even as in sourcing, implemented in part to avoid high turnover and lack of a stable, committed workforce, has created the need for more employees.  According to a Freedom of Information Act obtained from UT, 58 employees have been terminated or resigned since January of 2012.

"Our time is for sale, our pride is not," said Troy Grant, a Building Services employee and UCW member.

Some custodians have come forward because they have been assigned to work in unsafe environments.  Others have noted that the atmosphere is "just plain disrespectful," and have been the targets of or witnessed verbal abuse from supervisors.

Alarmingly employees also point to an atmosphere of fear and suspicion in which those who speak up against these conditions are subject to the threat of discipline and retaliation by their supervisors.  "If you speak up, you know they're gonna put you on the list [to be fired], said one custodian, who did not wish to be named precisely for such fears.

Organizers hope that Wednesday's event will garner broader campus and community attention that will demonstrate the urgency and stakes of the problem, and force accountability.  Custodians, their supporters, and the media are encouraged to arrive at the Shiloh Room at 3 pm.  

For more information, contact:
Cameron Brooks at 865-387-4408, [email protected] .