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  Public Employee Press

PEP Feb 2004
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

B’klyn College student flunks R-E-S-P-E-C-T 101


Brooklyn College has a problem — Mike Usher — an angry young man who writes a column for the student newspaper, The Excelsior. Usher has a lot of problems, starting with a foul mouth. His education is evidently inadequate, since he has never learned to respect the dignity of work or seek both sides of a story. Yet the school lets him use his column to hurt others with inflammatory insults.

Last semester, Mr. Usher targeted the school custodians, who are members of Local 1597. Mr. Usher wrote: “I want the bathroom custodians at BC to get castrated with dull rusty hedge clippers.”

He goes on to refer to the people who keep the campus buildings clean as “completely nasty bastards,” “a—holes,” “losers,” “insipid morons,” and “pretentious c—suckers.”

His grievance? Custodians close off bathrooms they are cleaning to prevent slips and spills on the wet floors. He counsels students to: “Pee in their bucket, it’s their job to clean, it’s our RIGHT to pee.”

Local 1597 President Edna Williams immediately fired off a letter to The Excelsior. She wrote: “You allowed Mike Usher to engage in an arrogant, disrespectful rant about the hard-working, dedicated Custodial Assistants.”

Brooklyn College President Chris Kimmich also expressed his dismay: “Brooklyn College prides itself on being a community guided by courtesy and respect. Students, faculty and staff have expressed their outrage at the views expressed in the column. It is clear that his opinions do not reflect those of the college community who acknowledge and appreciate the work of the men and women to whom we have entrusted the maintenance and custody of our beautiful campus.”

“The Custodial Assistants are very offended,” said Local 1597 Shop Steward Rafael Perez. “Who is he to slander us for doing this work?”

For Custodian Mohammad Herbin, “The attack seemed very personal. The job is difficult. I wish he could understand. There are 16 bathrooms in the building I work in. I really can’t understand why he feels he has to come and use the one that’s being cleaned.”

“I didn’t appreciate it at all,” said Custodial Assistant Dawn Rasberry. “It’s not freedom of speech when you slander and threaten people. How do you get away with saying ‘castrate people’?”

Custodian Shah Adil pointed out, “We’ve worked in this building for a long time and have received no complaints. Mike Usher put out a lot of garbage, and we feel insulted.”

Custodian Marins Mitto has been on the job for 18 years. “I love my job,” she emphasized. “He put a little dent in that. He tried to make it seem that we have no pride. I have pride in what I do. I have no shame. It’s my job and it’s not an easy job.”

Members of Local 1597 and other DC 37 locals do the cleaning and landscaping that brought BC a first-place ranking last year for the beauty of its campus. Perhaps they should also wash Mike Usher’s mouth out with soap.


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