UT custodians stand up for respect

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Some UT workers are fighting back against what they call disrespect and abuse from their bosses.

They had a community forum to show unity and air grievances against their supervisors.

The workers Local 8 News talked to said it started about a year and a half ago when new management came in.

Since then, the United Campus Workers union says almost half of the workforce left because of the abuse.

Now, some of those still on the job are putting it on the line to fight for their rights.

"I mean 90% of this gray hair is from juggling," said Troy Grant, an employee representative.

Grant is an employee representative, and hears all the complaints from workers in the Building Services Department.

He says it's mostly about mistreatment, disrespect, and bad communication.

"I've seen people talked down to and belittled instead of shown the right way to do something, made to feel like they were ignorant and stupid," said Grant.

"Talking to your supervisor, talking to their supervisors and moving on up the ladder doesn't work. Filing grievances doesn't work. UT doesn't want to look bad, and I figure this is going to make the look bad and they will have to pay attention," said Gary Thomas, a UT custodian.

Thomas says when he applied to represent the workers, he got reassigned out of retaliation to his post with the athletic department.

Now, he's worried about his job.

"Yes, I am concerned. THey will find some reason. I have no complaints about my work except that one supervisor," said Thomas.

Seth Cannon feels discriminated against because he suffers from muscle spasms caused by a medical disorder.

"I had my doctors notes anytime I missed, I had the sick time to cover it, and they're writing me up to call me lazy," said Cannon.

Students and people around the community stopped by to lend their support to workers who are afraid that by showing up and talking, they won't be working at UT much longer.

"To be honest with you, I don't know if I'll be employed by the end of this week," said Grant.

They aren't looking for more money, just respect and they hope today's meeting sends the message.

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