Swing Space has no dining hall, communal bathrooms or Gothic arches. It also lacks Yale custodial workers.
Though Yale custodians clean Old Campus dormitories and all 12 of Yale’s residential colleges, the University has held a contract with the New Haven-based Fusco Corporation to manage Swing Space since the residence opened in 1998. Because Fusco employees do not belong to Yale’s unions, the University does not have to guarantee the same pay and employment benefits it gives Yale employees, said a Fusco spokeswoman and a University administrator. But Swing Space residents said they do not notice much of a difference in the quality of maintenance provided by Fusco and University employees.
Besides cleaning the hallways and public areas of Swing Space twice a week, Fusco workers also maintain the building, respond to facilities problems and take care of the grounds around the dormitory. When any of the Fusco-issued furniture in each suite — consisting of two lounge chairs, a sofa, a coffee table, a kitchen table and two dining chairs — goes missing, or student parties cause damage to Swing Space, Fusco fines students on behalf of the University, Director of Facilities Operations Eric Uscinski said.
The company also performs similar services for Linsly-Chittenden Hall and William L. Harkness Hall.
Though Fusco is an independent contractor, it enforces the same standards as facilities managers across the University, Uscinski said. For example, he said, when it comes to levying fines on students, such as end-of-year cleanup charges and the fees for missing furniture, Fusco managers take direction from the Office of Facilities, and Yale collects the money..
“They work for Yale University, and we make all those types of decisions,” Uscinski said. “They coordinate with my office here in terms of any issues that come up, just like in any other dormitory.”
Staff members hired directly by Yale not only receive union-level pay and health care and other benefits, but they also enjoy job security under the union contract, while contractor employees experience high turnover rates, Local 35 President Bob Proto said.
And hiring contractors like Fusco, which bring non-unionized employees to campus, means Yale hires fewer full-time employees who can join unions, Proto said. Both Yale unions have urged the University to eliminate outside contractors for years, he said.
“We would have an open mind on whether they would hire a management company to oversee the workers,” Proto said. “But the actual workers themselves should be Yale employees and should be afforded the same pay and benefits that we have in our contract.”
The current Local 35 contract stipulates that Yale must employ at least 235 custodial workers, so the University could not bring in more contractors to manage buildings or hire Fusco to maintain more buildings should it wish to, Uscinski said. In fact, he added, as the University completes more buildings such as the Greenberg Conference Center for international leadership programs, Yale will directly hire more workers to manage them.
“But it’s always a good thing to have a little benchmark by comparing to an outside facility like [Fusco],” he added. “We get to measure the quality of their services against the quality of our services.”
Fusco is helpful but unobtrusive in Swing Space, four current residents said. The most contact Carmen Chambers ’12 has had with Fusco employees are the notes they leave on the whiteboard outside the door to her suite, requesting that she move objects left in the hall so they can vacuum, she said.
Though the furniture Fusco provides — which Chambers described as “nursing-home-esque” — limits residents’ ability to incorporate their own furniture into the rooms, she said, the kitchenette included in all suites makes up for the inconvenience.
Fusco keeps the building clean and is responsive to maintenance concerns, current resident Kevin Adkisson ’12 said.
“It’s immaculate,” he said of Swing Space. Though Adkisson said he disagrees with a Fusco rule preventing residents from pasting decorations on their doors, “I’ll give them a clean wooden door since they give me such a wonderful environment,” he added.
Fusco’s construction branch also oversaw the building of Swing Space and the renovations of Saybrook and Timothy Dwight colleges.