As with many professions, the ever-changing protocols ensuring a safe and healthy environment for staff and students is overwhelming for school employees. This is particularly true with education support professionals (ESPs), especially cafeteria, custodial employees, bus drivers, and other jobs. This excess workload is seen in how the work is scheduled, the increase in the number and complexity of tasks, the unrealistic quantity of tasks for the hours worked, and the number of hours being distributed across fewer workers.
This increase in workload impacts physical health, leading to an increased possibility of injury and general work-related stress. To protect employees from ill health, burnout, and a likely increase in resignations, all of which ultimately harm the school community, we must immediately and proactively address excess workload in a comprehensive and sustainable way.
Because public school employees have a powerful organized voice in their union—their designated exclusive bargaining representative—workers must use it to speak up about workload. Your union rep or local UniServ director is trained to respond and assist you. Belonging to a union means you have a recognized voice with the power of 76,000 MSEA members behind you. If all education support employees commit to working to their negotiated contract and resisting unreasonable demands that increase workload, we can organize and advocate together for real, meaningful solutions. This means employees must take action school-by-school and worksite-by-worksite by refusing to give up their negotiated breaks and full lunch periods and pushing back on new tasks assigned when older ones aren’t removed.
Through your local union, you can play a role in reviewing, designing, and implementing creative solutions with other stakeholders like the employer, supervisors, and building managers—all of whom have roles and responsibilities in the work. Each group can offer their unique perspectives and contribute to equitable solutions that can become part of the collective bargaining agreement.
Start the conversation in your local! Contact your UniServ director.