Councilman Francisco Moya talking at Q061. Photos courtesy

32BJ, Moya Call for FY 2021 Budget to Fully Fund NYCSSS (New York City School Support Services) to Continue Level of Service Needed to Keep Public Schools Safe, Clean and Running

Even as the country’s largest public school system shut doors, 6,400 essential, frontline workers continue to clean and maintain schools, resource centers and meal distribution sites amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Workers risk their health and the health of their families to keep students and staff healthy at these buildings that provide vital resources for their communities.

To thank them, a caravan including Council Member Francisco Moya and 32BJ SEIU staff drove through six Queens sites on Tuesday morning to show support for 32BJ SEIU cleaners and maintenance persons.

Those on the caravan praised the school staff for feeding and servicing their communities during the pandemic. Council Member Moya said he would prioritize and protect the workers whose jobs could be affected by funding changes in the fiscal year 2021 budget.

“Working-class heroes are on the frontlines risking everything for the health and safety of Queens residents and New Yorkers in every borough,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “Every day, 32BJ cleaners and handypersons work tirelessly to protect those who rely on our schools and resource centers for survival during the pandemic. We must go beyond saying ‘thank you’ to these heroes by fully investing in the NYCSSS to ensure they can stay on the job and earn the wages they deserve.” 

SEIU 32BJ Vice President Shirley Aldebol addressed workers who clean and maintain schools. Councilman Francisco Moya was also there.

“I’m proud to be contributing and working right now. I care about the students, the staff and their families, and I want to be part of the solution by cleaning essential schools that people really rely on right now,” said Mark Anthony Espinoza, a cleaner at Information Technology High School in Long Island City. “It’s great to be thanked and recognized for our work, but what we really need is funding and support. Covid-19 has affected me personally, and my wife and I have a baby on the way. I need to keep my salary and benefits—it’s only fair to the people working on the frontlines doing the jobs that can’t be done from home.”

“You have always been essential and need to be recognized. Often you’re left out, but we’re going to make sure that everyone—the community, the City, our elected leaders— understands how vital your work is to our neighborhoods and our city. I want to make sure that we not just thank you, fight to make sure that the budget for the NYCSSS is fully funded so that you’re able to do the work that you need to do, with PPE, and at the pay rate you deserve. Ensuring that NYC’s public school buildings are clean and safe must be a top priority in budget discussions.”

The group caravanned at six locations—Q061, Q019, Q127, Q143, Q069, Q398—following similar events in Brooklyn last week and “Heart of Our Buildings” events at residential and commercial buildings throughout New York.

The group will continue at more schools next week in Manhattan.

With more than 175,000 members in 11 states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.