I am a kindergarten teacher in a full day kindergarten program. Most of my class stays at school for lunch, and they eat in the classroom. The rest of the school eats either in the lunchroom, or on the stage.

After the kids are finished, the lunchroom and the stage are cleaned. The Kindergarten rooms are not. We are told that there are just not enough caretakers to do the job. My Lunch supervisor usually ends up sweeping under the tables after lunch is over, but she does it out of the goodness of her heart, and it is not part of her job description.

Today my lunch supervisor was away (more on that later) and so after lunch, it wasn’t swept. My ECE and are in constant motion with 23 little people running around, and do not have time to clean.

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After school I was getting ready to go home, when one of the caretakers came in. She ran her dust mop quickly around the room, and then stopped, and demanded to know why there was so much food under the table.

I told her that my students eat lunch here, and that my lunch supervisor usually sweeps up, but that she was away today. She said to me “Good luck if you bring cockroaches home.” and swept out of the room, leaving the food behind.

I started texting my ECE telling her what happened, and telling her that I planned to take a picture of under the table just in case she left it all weekend, when I hear her coming back down the hall, Principal in tow.

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Again, I explain that the children eat in the room, and that my lunch supervisor usually sweeps but that she was away today, adding that it is technically not part of her job.

Caretaker starts yelling at me that if she brings cockroaches home from work again, I should have to pay to have her house fumigated.

Then she walks over to where my broom is (incidentally, the broom I bought myself, because one wasn’t supplied) and announces “Here’s the broom. It takes two minutes.” before stalking out of the room again.

The principal just sort of stood there, and then quickly changed the subject.

What I find particularly rich about this situation is that the Caretakers are currently taking part in a work to rule, and one of the directives from their work to rule is that they are not supposed to permit people who are not part of their union to do union work. So not only is she yelling at me to do something that is part of her job, she is demanding that I break her union’s job action.

I emailed my shop steward when I got home.

I don’t want to get into a fight with a caretaker, but at the same time, I will not be bullied into doing her job for her. Her fight isn’t with me, it’s with those who have not adequately funded school caretaking, so there is no one to clean up the Kindergarten classrooms after lunch.

My ECE tells me that earlier, there was one night when it was really rather clean under the table, and the tabletop was clean but that the following morning there was a single dirty cucumber slice sitting on the table. Presumably someone passive aggressively picked it up and put it there.

That’s another thing. Our kids eat in the classroom every day, and the tables are never washed. The lunchroom tables are, of course.