On April 7, the Medford City Council unanimously voted on a resolution to ask Tufts University to re-evaluate its plans to cut 35 part-time janitors from its staff.
Councilor Adam Knight proposed the resolution at the public meeting. Knight, who attended the Tufts Labor Coalition (TLC) Forum in March, said he was skeptical as to why Tufts would want to cut janitors given the fact that it is in the process of constructing several new buildings. He suggested that the Council ask Tufts to maintain current staff levels.
“A divestment from the workforce is misguided and inappropriate,” Knight said. “This resolution will send a message to Tufts University that we support working men and women.”
Councilor Robert Penta raised concerns that Tufts, a private university, was out of the jurisdiction of the Medford City Council, and therefore a resolution from the Council may be ineffective in getting Tufts to reconsider cuts. He agreed, however, that janitorial cuts seemed inconsistent with a project of expansion.
“Common sense would tell me that if they are going to be expanding more of their footprint, why would they be laying people off?” Penta said.
Penta also suggested that the Council invite a member of the Tufts administration to defend their position. The vote was taken, however, despite the administration’s absence.
According to Council Vice President Breanna Lugo-Koehn, the Council is frequently critical of Tufts, and believes than since some of the janitors are Medford residents, issues at Tufts should be discussed among the Council.
“This is an issue that’s affecting Medford residents,” Lugo-Koehn said. “We harp on Tufts University a lot … this is well within the purview of the Council.”
According to President Frederick Dello Russo Jr., the resolution will be sent to Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell and Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel.
The Somerville City Council will propose a similar resolution on Thursday, April 9, according to Councilor Paul Camuso.