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Howard University Maintenance Workers Rally To Save Jobs

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Howard University has plans to bring in a contractor to do maintenace at the school.
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Howard University has plans to bring in a contractor to do maintenace at the school.

Maintenance workers at Howard University rallied today in an effort to save their jobs at the financially troubled institution.

Harold Andrews has worked as a union electrician at Howard for 27 years. In July he got a letter from the university informing him of a plan that would put his job, and some 200 others, in the hands of private contractors.

"We've been told that Howard no longer wants to be in the business of maintenance, they're in the education business," Andews says.

As a university employee, he's gotten great benefits, including free tuition for his daughter, who earned two degrees here at what's considered one of the nation's top historically black universities. His son is still a student, studying civil engineering.

But Andrews says if Howard hires out maintenance to private companies, workers won't have the same sort of investment he does.

"They're from out of state, they've never been here before, they don't know anything about university, they're here for a profit only," he says.

A university spokesperson, in a statement, defended outsourcing, saying the university is trying to maximize efficiency and manage costs.

Howard has been in turmoil recently: last fall the president stepped down abruptly, and the the university's credit rating was downgraded.

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