By Daesha Gear
Classified employees of the Riverside Community College District expressed that they feel unrecognized and underappreciated during classified employee week.
Victor Bolanos, a help desk support technician, spoke on behalf of RCCD classified workers at the RCCD Board of Trustees regular meeting May 17 regarding employee access to the back doors and rooftops of buildings due to safety concerns because of the rise of homelessness.
These matters surrounding the welfare of classified employees have been brought up. However, according to Bolanos, no action has been taken to solve this issue.
“Our classified do not feel safe,” he said. “They do not feel they are able to walk around this area in a safe matter. They are not able to take their breaks.”
Bolanos also added that workers would ask each other to walk together in groups for safety precautions during non-disturbed meal breaks. According to him, it is a lack of humane consideration.
“That is not right,” Bolanos said. “That is not the way you treat people. That is not the way you treat your classified here.”
Having access to non-accessible areas that would benefit classified workers’ well-being was one of the proposals he suggested to the Board.
Trustee Mary Figueroa also agreed with Bolanos and said it was “shameful” to the employees.
She insisted the Board give further considerations that will guarantee classified workers access to the rooftop for leisure or to eat as it is a resource that should be shared with all staff members who are part of the district.
“I do not want to pass by our parking lot and see our staff standing up against the fence line having their lunch,” Figueroa said. “Not even when I was at the prison did that happen with our staff.”
Bolanos also asked for a safe working environment due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak at Riverside City College, just a month before the commencement ceremony on June 10.
The Kane Building was reported to have multiple COVID-19 cases on May 14.
According to Tabitha Fuller, RCC’s academic evaluations specialist, only a few employees were notified of possible exposures. She sent a letter filled with concerns about workers’ safety and lack of communication from Risk Management to the Board.
“There is too much uncertainty with little or no planning for potential outbreaks,” Fuller wrote.
Other representatives, such as Cassandra Greene, RCC’s chapter president of the California School Employees Association (CSEA), further reiterated the neglect of the welfare of classified employees amidst the outbreak in the Kane Building.
“Classified professionals are scared for their safety,” Greene said. “Yet they still want to do their jobs. They want to support our students, and now we are sending them home either asymptomatic or because of a close exposure, and we are limiting services to our students. That is the opposite of what we should be doing.”
She also noted that some classified professionals felt treated like “third-class citizens whose contributions to the district” feel undervalued.
Gary Morris, 54, was a beloved maintenance mechanic at Moreno Valley College who passed away on March 22, 2020. His passing was acknowledged a few months later at the May 17 meeting by Christopher Sweeten, MVC’s vice president of Student Services.“I take full responsibility for not acknowledging Mr. Morris at the last meeting, and I apologize for that,” Trustee Bill Hedrick said. “I had it in my list, and there was an oversight. That is all I can say, and it is a horrible oversight.”
Hedrick adjourned the meeting by honoring the late Morris two months after his passing. Future beneficial considerations for classified workers in RCCD, however, have yet to be finalized by the Board.