Op-Ed: Tufts Facilities upper management takes corporate America stance, jeopardizing students, staff and workers

Editor’s Note: This letter was written by an anonymous Facilities employee who withheld their name out of concern for their job.

Tufts Facilities is deeply involved in major changes, changes which have their workers scratching their heads and sighing in frustration. Tufts Facilities has begun a new project involving its main facilities location on 520 Boston Avenue in Medford. This multi-step renovation will be addressing some issues with insulation in the building that need to be addressed. However, this is not the issue that has employees questioning motives.

Currently, “520” houses many different operations to aid with facilities as well as offices; along with a lunchroom for the trades, a carpenter shop, a paint shop and stock room used by carpenters, maintenance mechanics and electricians. However, along with the construction to upgrade the perimeter of the building come changes that don’t seem to make sense at all. The carpenter shop as well as the stock room is going to be reduced to a fraction of its size so more office space can be made. Exits will be relocated, making entrance and exit difficult, and the paint shop is being removed altogether. These changes are being made so upper management can hire more managers and continue to implement their corporate America approach.

As Tufts continues to add state-of-the-art building after building, the demand for maintenance increases, causing more of a need of a stable facility building to make necessary repairs and make them fast. By taking all these spaces away, you don’t provide any solution for repair space and a sufficient stock room to house materials for repair. Management has commented by saying we can use satellite shops throughout campus to aid in repairs. However, by doing so, you’re taking away our nucleus, and every facility needs a main hub to operate efficiently. Workers can’t provide repairs with just satellite shops alone. A main shop is a must. Colleges such as Boston University, Northeastern and Boston College all acknowledge the importance of central facilities and have a main building to house facilities for these reasons. Tufts Facilities has over 170 buildings to maintain, and these new changes will only slow down the efficiency of completing work orders submitted by students and faculty.

These senseless changes affect all students and staff greatly because they only delay the response and completion time of work orders. Students who are already frustrated with slow response times due to work overload amongst workers should be ready for things to get even worse, and slower. Students need to know that their frustration is shared by the workers. But the problem lies with upper management. Facility workers have been desperately trying to become more efficient for the students and staff for years, but no help has been offered by upper management to work with them to make this happen. Instead, they do the opposite and focus their time and money on “Legacy” projects so when they retire they can showcase what they did. Tufts Management — who once embraced the community, students, and the environment — has now drastically changed and has followed suit with the rest of corporate America, only caring about the bottom line and not students, staff and its workers’ needs. They care more about raising the tuition on the students and dumping money into “legacy” projects than giving their own workers a home. Tufts workers who once felt valued and important now have begun looking for new jobs, because this careless approach gives them no other option.

As MBTA continues building a College Avenue stop for their Green Line, with current plans to demolish the facilities grounds building and build a new academic building in its place, major issues arise. First, where do you put these 25-plus grounds employees? Secondly, where do all the vehicles go?

Where else: 520 Boston Avenue. The same 520 Boston Avenue that will be having its shop space cut in more than half. The “master” plan is to stuff over 55 facilities and grounds workers in the same tiny building and simply hope for the best, with no concrete plan moving forward. Anyone who works in the vicinity of 520 or 574 Boston Avenue knows already that there is little to no parking currently. What will it be like once all of these additional workers arrive? Where will everyone go? It is hard enough to find a parking space now after 8 a.m., so good luck to any staff workers that arrive here on a nine to five schedule. Faculty workers arrive early so all the parking will be gone by the time 9 to 5ers show up. When upper management was asked these questions, most of them were speechless, and the only answer that was provided was that we could use campus parking garages. Not a bad idea, but the only issue with this is that facility vehicles don’t fit in these garages due to low overheard clearances.

At this point, the message is loud and clear to the facilities workers. Upper management simply doesn’t care for the conditions their workers have to endure moving forward. There are no future plans to build or provide facilities with a main hub that can house all comfortably and enable its workers to efficiently go about their day in aiding students and staff. They simply don’t care about students’ needs as long as they get their tuition money to help aid with their corporate plans. Instead, they keep hiring more of their friends to build on their greedy corporate model. If upper management did care, then they would be working together with their facility managers and workers in hopes of providing solutions that benefit everyone involved, rather that going about things unplanned with vague answers. Facilities workers are well aware that if management does have a plan for the future, the works and needs of the students and staff simply aren’t a part of it.