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'T' Cleaners, Supporters to Protest Janitorial Job Cuts

The janitors who clean the T and their supporters rally today against job cuts they say could leave the MBTA a mess. (SEIU)
The janitors who clean the T and their supporters rally today against job cuts they say could leave the MBTA a mess. (SEIU)
August 22, 2016

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority plans to cut one-third of the workforce that cleans the "T" stations in the Boston area as part of a plan to balance its budget. But janitors and their supporters will be out in force on Monday to stand against the cutbacks.

Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern said he'll be among those at the protest. He said the MBTA is taking a wrongheaded approach by killing jobs when the move would have such a small impact on the agency's budget problems.

"You know, actually I think it's outrageous that the MBTA is trying to balance their budget on the backs of their lowest-paid workers,” McGovern said.

The MBTA said it is confident that cleanliness will not be affected by the plan to cut 90 janitorial positions on September 1st. But the pending cuts will impact MBTA workers' ability to pay their bills and provide for their children, McGovern said.

Janitors and their supporters are planning to protest on Monday at 12:30 p.m. at the Massachusetts Transport Building in Boston.

Roxanne Rivera, vice president at 32BJ SEIU, said the labor union will call on Gov. Charlie Baker to take action. The governor has the authority to avert the cuts, she said. And, if the cuts go through, she predicts a "big mess" at local T stations.

"The MBTA has been saying that they want a world-class transit system,” Rivera said. "It will not smell or look like a world-class transit system, if they actually cut a third of the cleaning workforce. "

Even before the proposed job cuts, McGovern said, Cambridge had already lost too many family-wage jobs, in what used to be a community of working-class residents.

"There are fewer and fewer in our community of Cambridge who have those jobs, because they can't afford to live here anymore,” McGovern said. "That's had a huge impact on the social fabric of our community."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA