Why are Vancouver kids sitting on dirty carpets at their schools?

Why are Vancouver kids sitting on dirty carpets at their schools?

Operating Engineers union launches advertising campaign about kids in Vancouver School Board schools facing dirty carpets, health and environmental concerns. Click here to see a PDF version of the ad.

Why are Vancouver kids sitting on dirty carpets at Vancouver School Board schools?

That’s the question the union representing building engineers, custodians and maintenance staff in Vancouver public schools is asking in a newspaper advertising campaign being launched today.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 963 says that privatized carpet cleaning has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the quality of work, leading to health and environmental concerns for students, parents, teachers and staff.

The union is asking for public support in its call on the Vancouver School Board to return contracted-out carpet cleaning work to VSB employees after nearly four years of privatization.

“The evidence of poor quality carpet cleaning in these ads has already been presented in greater detail to the trustees of the Vancouver School Board but they have refused to act on these concerns, so we are taking our case to the public,” said Tim De Vivo, IUOE 963 Business Manager. “We want students, parents and other members of our community to express their concern directly to VSB trustees.”

De Vivo said the union’s website will allow anyone concerned to send an email directly to VSB trustees, while the newspaper ads running in colour in 24 hours newspaper today and the Vancouver Courier Friday also feature a write-in coupon that can be sent to the VSB.

“We believe VSB trustees have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are clean, healthy and safe and the evidence we have gathered shows that is not always the case, so action is needed,” he said.

De Vivo said the IUOE 963 has also raised environmental concerns about the possible use of harmful chemicals in carpet cleaning and security issues with non-employees working in Vancouver schools.

“It’s critical that the Vancouver School Board can guarantee that the chemicals used in carpet cleaning are not harmful or even carcinogenic but at the moment, that is not being done with any degree of certainty,” De Vivo said.

In a budget submission made to the Vancouver School Board in March, the IUOE 963 included colour photos of moldy, soiled, wet and dirty carpets taken after carpet cleaning was completed by a private contractor, as well as other detailed information on why the VSB should return the work to its own employees.

IUOE 963 President Adrian David said Vancouver is the only school district in the Lower Mainland that has privatized carpet cleaning.

“Vancouver School Board trustees should look at the photographic evidence we have provided them, should consider the fact that they are the only school district that has contracted out carpet cleaning and fix the problem by returning this important work to VSB staff,” David said.

“The Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association have joined our union in opposing privatized carpet cleaning because of the obvious negative impact teachers see on their students and themselves,” David said. “Who wants to teach kids or work in classrooms with dirty carpets?”