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School Board Hears from Upset Maintenance Workers

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – St. Louis school board members heard from angry parents and students at their meeting Tuesday night; many of whom protested a lack of hot water and other utilities at some schools this week.

More than 20 maintenance engineers staged a "sick-out" to protest the potential outsourcing of custodial jobs on Tuesday.

Stephen Gregali, a St. Louis Alderman and an official with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 2, said the action was entirely the workers' doing.

"A few of them called in sick [Monday and Tuesday]," he said. "That was not condoned by the union. I want to let the public know that. There's a bona fide fear by some of our members and they took such action. I just regret that I couldn't tell them to do it."

The board did not act on the privatization matter, but may vote on it next month.

The meeting was boisterous and was twice recessed so board members could keep order.

Parents, students and district employees also expressed displeasure with a lack of hot water and meals Monday and Tuesday.

Gary Wilson, with the International Union of Operating Engineers, said administrative plans to outsource maintenance work are not sitting well with building engineers.

"We have not been told why you have to privatize these jobs. 'I have to or can't' is not an answer."

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