Custodians highlight inefficiencies in staff during Gov. Inslee forum

KCTS 9, a public television station in Seattle, hosted its first out-of-studio broadcast Tuesday night in Kane Hall for Gov. Jay Inslee.

Enrique Cerna, KCTS 9’s host, read various questions for the governor, from pre-selected videos, the #AskTheGov Twitter hashtag, and audience members. 

Paula Lukaszek, a UW plumber, came to the Q&A hoping to ask Gov. Inslee about increasing funds in higher education so the universities can hire more frontline staff.

She was accompanied by Salvador Castillo, a UW custodian.

“We don’t have enough people to cover everything. Only 40% of our work gets finished,” Castillo said. “We want to provide better things for students who pay high tuition.”

Via The Daily

To demonstrate this, Castillo referenced buildings on the UW campus that frequently deal with chemicals. If these don’t get cleaned, the chemicals can build up and make students sick.

Lukaszek provided another example, referencing the flooding of Padelford Hall two months ago due to a fire sprinkler, and said nothing is being done about it.

Both Castillo and Lukaszek are members of Local 1488 of the Washington Federation of State Employees, a nonprofit union.

The pair has attended earlier Q&As with UW President Ana Mari Cauce, and asked similar questions. 

Lukaszek never had her questions answered.

“There were at least 100 more questions that weren’t even put on the camera,” KCTS social media coordinator Brian Glanz said. “Only so much can get on air.”

The Q&A session was scheduled for an hour. Inslee stayed for a few extra minutes off-camera.

“You do find yourself with one minute left wishing you had a second hour,” Glanz said. 

He said the most-asked questions across the board were on, in order, education, marijuana, and climate change and environmental impact.

There was one topic Inslee talked about the most, however: the McCleary ruling. 

The McCleary ruling is a 2012 Washington State Supreme Court decision that ruled the state Legislature is not meeting its constitutional duty of providing for the education of students in the state.

Seattle resident and audience member Kevin Broveleit had some comments related to education. His two daughters were sitting next to him.

“I appreciate the time you spent talking about McCleary, and I hope that’s not colored by your event tonight being at UW,” Broveleit said to Inslee. “What’s going to break that gridlock? You saying there’s no point in calling for a special session doesn’t give us a lot of hope.”

Inslee replied there should be hope, and reasoned he didn’t call a special meeting because it would slow the process of actually getting a bipartisan decision.

“One of those parties is rabidly not interested in complying with this court order,” Inslee said. “And the more the governor leans on them on the basis of the court order, the more resistant they are in coming up with a plan to satisfy the court order.”

Once the event ended, Castillo said Inslee’s response was a valid one, but the goal tonight was to let everybody know what’s going on.

“I think we put the word out there,” he said. “I think he already got knowledge about it, but the students don’t know what’s going on.” 

Castillo and Lukaszek agreed the underemployment of custodians is an issue that affects everyone.

“It’s not fair for the students to be in that unsafe environment,” Castillo said.

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