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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Custodians work hard

    Custodian Nelda Davenport works on the first floor of the UA Main Library yesterday morning. Throughout her years she has observed several weird occurrences at the library.
    Custodian Nelda Davenport works on the first floor of the UA Main Library yesterday morning. Throughout her years she has observed several weird occurrences at the library.

    Clarification
    In yesterday’s “”Custodians work hard,”” while the Facilities Management Department was highlighted for their work, Residence Life Custodial, Arizona Student Unions’ Facilities Management and UMC Facilities Management also contribute to keeping the campus clean.

    William Pike is all smiles, even though every day he is faced with doing his part to help keep a daunting 10 million square feet of space clean.

    With almost 1,900 square miles of space that collects dust and gets strewn with trash every day, the UA campus and its buildings make up an area twice as large as Rhode Island.

    Pike, a custodian at the UA for the past 18 years, is one of 300 custodians who make it all go away.

    He works from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every weekday as a wood floor specialist, cleaning the floors at Bear Down Gym, McKale Center and the Regents Room. His job is to strip down the wood floors before re-waxing them to a shiny finish.

    One reason why Pike has a smile on his face is because he takes a lot of pride in his work. He said he tries to do it right the first time so he doesn’t waste time redoing it later.

    “”I like that I help take care of other people by making sure there is no contamination and everything is clean,”” Pike said. “”Sometimes students don’t consider other people, and they can be messy. It’s my responsibility to make sure everything is clean again.””

    Christopher Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management, said the UA has one of the best departments in the country, which is constantly trying to keep the UA campus as clean as possible.

    And it’s a job that keeps getting bigger.

    Luis Rocha, assistant director of Facilities Management, said the UA has added about 1 million square feet over the past few years but also has cut the number of custodial employees.

    Rocha said new cleaning equipment helps Facilities Management compensate for past staff reductions and stay efficient while maintaining high standards in its cleaning.

    New Zamboni-like “”rider”” equipment helps custodians vacuum and clean floors more efficiently, and it doesn’t require as much physical labor.

    Kopach said using the old walk-behind floor machines would take one custodian almost eight hours to clean just one of the three concourses at McKale Center.

    The new rider equipment allows one operator to clean all three floors in an hour and 30 minutes.

    The UA Main Library has about 7 1/2 acres of carpet, which used to take custodians several hours to clean with traditional push vacuums.

    But the new rider vacuum allows Pike to complete the entire job in about 2 1/2 hours.

    Because of the new machines, Pike isn’t sore at the end of his shift anymore.

    Boasting an average length of employment of 13 years, Facilities Management helps retain workers with its benefits package.

    Full coverage, as well as discounts on UA and Pima Community College tuition for themselves and immediate family members, helps entice employees to continue working for the UA.

    Facilities Management offers a $25 discount per credit taken at the UA and a 75 percent discount on classes taken at PCC, Rocha said.

    “”A lot of our employees work here so they can go back to school or help put their family through college,”” Kopach said.

    Pike said the discounts helped put his daughter through college. Dusty Nielsen, a custodian who has been working at the UA for three months, said she is taking classes to continue her education. Rocha said five of the six managers are also taking classes to try and finish their education, along with about 25 employees.

    Sometimes students don’t consider other people, and they can be messy. It’s my responsibilty to make sure everything is clean again.

    William Pike,
    UA custodian

    Kopach said Facilities Management has received multiple national and local awards and recognition for the department’s quality of work and the efficiency of the new rider equipment and cleaning chemicals.

    In 2003, the department received an award for being one of the safest workplaces in Pima County. In the May 2006 edition of College Planning and Management magazine, the UA is featured as a “”success story”” for the department’s new highly efficient floor-cleaning equipment. Also, in 2005, Facilities Management was voted one of the best places to work in Tucson.

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