Maintenance workers protest unfair wages, repair backlog


Weicheng Han

SDSU maintenance workers held a demonstration Tuesday afternoon against what they describe as unfair practices by SDSU.

by David Santillan, Social Media Editor

Maintenance workers at San Diego State held a demonstration on campus Tuesday, protesting what they say is a lack of staffing and unfair pay from the university.

Workers gathered in front of Hepner Hall and handed out fliers describing various issues they say they are encountering in maintaining the campus.

The demonstrators’ fliers claimed that the California State University system has more than $2.6 billion worth of outstanding maintenance and repairs.

SDSU Skilled Trades Director Hector Fernandez who was at the demonstration, said he believes SDSU has close to $600 million of deferred maintenance.

“We’re concerned about the fact that they’re understaffing us at San Diego State, so the deferred maintenance continues to increase instead of going down,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez said the university currently staffs close to 70 maintenance workers to keep up the roughly 500 million-square-foot campus.

He said the workers’ concerns have been communicated with university officials who say they are limited on funds from the state but are doing the most they can to address the situation.

“It’s a larger issue than what’s happening at SDSU’s campus,” SDSU spokesperson Jill Esterbrooks said via telephone.

Meanwhile, the university continues to expand and add more buildings to its campus. SDSU opened the $90 million Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex last week.

“We have increased close to 23 percent in square footage in the last 10 years and yet our staffing levels have either maintained the same or lowered,” Fernandez said. “They have money to build these new buildings but (they are) not concerned about the deferred maintenance that has been rising for 10 years.”

One of the most recent maintenance issues was mold found in the Maya residence hall late last semester.

“They’re planning all these expansions and yet they can’t fix the problems in other buildings,” said liberal arts freshman Chandler Smith, who moved out of Maya because of the mold. “If they can plan to expand the campus they can hire more maintenance workers.”

Most students were moved out of the residence hall, but some say it took more complaints than it should have for the Office of Housing Administration to address the problem.

Esterbooks said that contract negotiations are underway with the maintenance workers’ union, but had no further comment.