Open Letter to Charles Kennedy

. Monday, June 22, 2009

The following letter was sent by student and community group, Democracy Insurgent, to Charles Kennedy, and cc'd to the Board of Regents on the day of the Regents meeting. The list of demands was presented to Charles Kennedy at the meeting for him to sign--he refused.

Democracy Insurgent
University of Washington

June 11th 2009

Charles Kennedy
Associate Vice President
Facilities Services
University of Washington

Cc: Mark Emmert, V'Ella Warren,Phyllis Wise, Gene Woodard, Craig Cole, Stanley Barer, Kristianne Blake, Jeffrey Brotman, William Gates Snr, Sally Jewell, Frederick Kiga, Constance Proctor, Herb Simon, Jean-Paul Willynck , Eric Staples, Seattle Times, Seattle PI, Real Change, KUOW, Indymedia

Dear Mr. Kennedy,

Open the Books at Facilities Services and subsidiaries!

We are writing to demand that the University of Washington Facilities Services, and its subsidiary departments, including Custodial Services, release its itemized lined budget of the past AND upcoming fiscal year to the public. We also demand that your office undergo an audit to make clear to the UW community that our tax dollars and tuition money have not gone into wasteful, unnecessary spending that appears to have benefitted only top management positions in your department.

As Associate Vice President of Facilities Services, you have awarded yourself a 30% “merit-based” pay raise over the past two years, raising your salary from $ 200, 000 to $ 260,000. In addition, there is also a $ 2.5 million surplus carried over from the last fiscal year in the Facilities budget.

These financial surpluses reflected both in your own pay raise as well as the $2.5 million carryover, are shocking at a time when your subsidiary department, Custodial Services, is declaring a 16% budget deficit. The director of Custodial Services, Gene Woodard, has claimed he has to take drastic measures to balance the budget deficit by eliminating the custodian swingshifts, laying off workers and imposing team-cleaning for custodians. We are concerned that the discrepancy may be indicative of corrupt practices in your department.

We demand to know what the criteria and process were, for the following “merit-based” pay raises:

- Associate Vice President: earned $200,000 in 2007 versus $260,000 today (a 30% increase)

-Executive Director of Campus Engineering and Operations: earned $180,000 in 2007 versus $198,000 today (a 10% increase)

-Director of Maintenance and Alterations: earned $150,000 in 2007 versus $164,000 (a 9% increase)

-Director of Transporation Services: earned $119,000 in 2007 versus $150,000 today (a 26% increase)

-Director of Custodial Services: earned $122,000 in 2007 versus $133,000 (a 9% increase)

-Director of Finance and Business Services: earned $119,000 in 2007 versus $132,000 today (an 11% increase)

-Director of Emergency Management: earned $103,000 in 2007 versus $113,000 (a 9% increase)

In contrast, custodians working for Facilities Services have not faced similar pay raises. The top-step custodian salary is a mere $31 000. In fact, with the recent budget cuts, swingshift custodians have lost their shift differentials as well as a 2.5% cost of living raise that was included in the most recent union contract. 17 custodians have also been laid off. There are currently 39 fewer custodian positions, many of which have not been replaced after retirement and firings.

Mr. Kennedy, is it possible that the money allocated for these custodial jobs by the state, have instead gone into management pay raises?

Mr. Kennedy, in times of economic crisis such as now, comparing your salary with the salary of the average custodian, which salary do you think would better withstand cuts and reductions?

In addition to dubious pay raises that management has received over the past two years, unnecessary and costly renovations to the Facilities Services buildings have been conducted.

The Physical Plant Office Building, where you and other higher-paid Facilities Services staff have offices, began undergoing renovation in January 2009. Remodel costs for this project currently total $165,000. This costly remodeling was justified under the pretext of additional “building security.” The additional security appears to be the installation of card-reader locks, as well as a receptionist desk, where someone can sit and monitor who wanders in and out of a previously open building. Ironically enough, the custodian who used to lock the doors of the Physical Plant Office Building was recently identified for layoff.

It appears that your department is resorting to staff layoffs and swingshift eliminations to address the budget shortfall. Where cuts to exorbitant pay raises, extravagant renovation expenditures, are easily in reach, and options for furloughs available, it is unclear as to why management resorts instead to targeting the most financially vulnerable workers in the university. For all its claim to maintain a diverse and multicultural university setting, it appears that the UW Facilities Services is satisfied with forcing the predominantly immigrant and people of color custodial workforce to carry the burden of the economic crisis on their backs. It also appears as if your department is unwilling to implement alternative options for fear that it sends the wrong political statement regarding the financial status of your department.

According to Marla Bradeen, Finance and Business Services analyst in Facilities Services,

Facilities Services appears committed to cutting services and personnel in order to prove the department's need for more funding. From my interpretation of comments made by management, the department may believe that cutting salaries or implementing furloughs may leave the impression that Facilities Services could easily withstand budget cuts and place our department in the position of having to absorb additional cuts in the future.

In light of such accusations of dishonesty and unaccountable money allocations in Facilities Services, we believe that an audit of your department is in order. We also demand to review the itemized line budget of your department for the past AND upcoming fiscal year so as to understand where the $2.5 million carryover would be allocated.

We look forward to hearing from you soon. You can contact us via email at

Democracy Insurgent