Union members join picket line to support Dunwoody workers

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Prospective students coming to Dunwoody College of Technology for an open house Thursday evening met a surprise: an informational picket line. About 20 union members were walking an informational picket line and passing out flyers urging the reinstatement of 11 Dunwoody custodial staff who recently lost their jobs.

The 11 custodial staff are members of Service Employees International Union Local 284. As a group, they have a total of 109 years of service at Dunwoody.

But that didn’t stop Dunwoody from calling in the workers one by one Friday, May 8 to tell them that their jobs were going to be outsourced to a private contractor. The workers were told they would be paid one more week but that very day would be their last day on the job.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Dave Kosmas, Minneapolis, who had worked at Dunwoody two years, recalling the moment he was told he was going to lose his job. He said he was “stunned” and “dumbfounded.”

“I just bought a house,” Kosmas said. “I’ve got a house payment.”

Kosmas said he enjoyed working at Dunwoody and had hoped to work until the end of his career. “I liked the people. It was a great atmosphere. They treated you well.”

Don Kulik, Minneapolis, who worked the second shift with Kosmas and was hired at the same time, said Dunwoody evidently had been planning to outsource their jobs for some time. The workers were told Friday, May 8 was their last day and “they had replacements for us on Monday,” he reported.

“This is cold-hearted what they did,” Kulik said. “They should have at least sat down to talk with us. I would have been more than happy to give up something to keep my job.”

“The total of all guys, we had over 100 years of service,” Kulik noted. Why do you do that to people?”

About 20 union members walked the picket line May 28 to support the workers, including union members from the American Postal Workers Union, Communications Workers of America, Office and Professional Employees, and Teamsters.

“We’re just out here to support our union brothers and sisters,” said Erica Dalager, a member of OPEIU Local 277 who works for American Income Life in St. Paul.

A security officer and senior Dunwoody staff observed the picket line from nearby, including the facilities manager who hired Kosmas and Kulik.

“We thought he was the greatest guy in the world until this happened,” Kosmas said.

I don’t know how they sleep at night and look in the mirror,” Kulik said.

SEIU Local 284’s Leif Grina said the union was seeking meet with Dunwoody to discuss the issues that prompted the outsourcing and to attempt to reinstate the workers.

Local 284 urges calls to Dunwoody at 612-374-5800 to ask them to put their loyal custodial employees back to work.

Steve Share edits the Labor Review, the official publication of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. Learn more at www.minneapolisunions.org

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