Contractors Please Students

Four Weeks After Shift, Few Complaints for Private Cleaners

Four weeks after outside contractors began cleaning several College buildings, students and administrators say they are generally pleased with the new custodians' performance.

UNICCO custodians began cleaning Quincy and Cabot Houses on Feb.1, the same day that Acme Building Services Inc. took over custodial work in Lamont and Pusey Libraries. The Loeb Drama Center is also being cleaned by an outside contractor.

"They're doing a good job", said Jason S. Cassidy '98, chair of Quincy's House Committee. "I have no complaints. No problems, at least yet""

Before the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) hired UNICCO and Acme contractors to clean the five buildings, FAS offered severance packages or early retirement options to all full time Harvard custodial employees.

About 40 custodians accepted the severance and retirement packages and 10 workers from the five affected buildings were transferred to other Harvard facilities, according to Jeffrey L. Smith, director of facilities maintenance.


Smith said his office, which oversees all Harvard-employed custodians, was not invited to bid on the contracts for the five buildings.

Cassidy said he had not heard of any problems with UNICCO custodians at Quincy--a sentiment echoed by the House's student Dorm Crew captain.

"I think they're doing a great job in Quincy," said Kellin A. King '99, an Adams resident who oversees Quincy's eight Dorm Crew workers. "It looks really clean.

According to another Dorm Crew worker, the student cleaning service is often gradually phased out of houses where custodial jobs are contracted out. But King said she has had no indication that Dorm Crew will be replaced in Quincy.

"The duties of UNICCO are so much separate from the duties of Dorm Crew at Quincy that I don't foresee any problems," King said.

She said the UNICCO custodians and the student cleaners work well together, citing some custodians' tendency to lend cleaning chemicals to student workers who have run out.

In Cabot House, many students are similarly pleased with UNICCO's service, although, like Quincy residents, they said the newcomers will need some time to adjust to their new working environment.

"So far it seems good," said Robert B. Wolinsky '97, co-chair of Cabot's House Committee. "It certainly seems different than the people we're used to. They're not familiar faces yet."

"I see them around all the time cleaning," said co-chair Audra A. Hale '98. "I do seem to be running into people cleaning in the hallways more often than I used to."

However, some reserved judgment on the new cleaning staff.

"UNICCO is not as thorough" as the Harvard-employed custodians who used to work in the House, said one Cabot Dorm Crew worker who asked not to be identified by name. "They haven't been working there for as long, only a month. There are some things that they just aren't used to cleaning."

Although UNICCO's janitors seem to be doing a good job of cleaning the House, Wolinsky said, many Cabot residents miss longtime custodial crew chief Robert Farias, a former Harvard employee who took the severance package and now works at Boston University.

Cabot House held a ceremony in Farias's honor and gave the custodian, who had worked in the House for more than 20 years, a going-away present, according to Wolinsky.

"It was a shame to see him go," Wolinsky said.

In addition, Paul Bellenoit, director of facilities maintenance for the Harvard College Library said he has been pleased with the Acme custodians who now work in Pusey and Lamont

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