Custodian supporters stage City Hall demonstration in Somerville
By Tom Nash
Hundreds gathered at City Hall Tuesday evening to protest Mayor Joseph Curtatone's decision to lay off nearly 60 city employees - some with signs suggesting it's the mayor who should be getting a pink slip.
"I've been working for the city for 17 years," Winter Hill Community School custodian Steve Shea said of the decision to outsource the work to a private contractor starting July 1. "I'm an official civil servant just like a firefighter or a policeman. Every job has worth."
Somerville Municipal Employees Association workers organized the protest, which also called attention to the eight employees getting laid off from the libraries and recreation department. SEIU members from throughout the Boston area attended the rally.
"We felt the pain the custodians were going through," SMEA President Ed Halloran said of the decision to organize the protest. "We want to appeal to the mayor and ask to stop these cuts."
Shea noted that during this year's budget review process, Curtatone frequently refers to the layoffs as "the human side" that has to give way to providing core services.
"Last year, he didn't use those words," Shea said. "It was a 'position.' If we're people, treat us like human beings."
After taking several laps around the Somerville High School parking lot, the roughly 300 demonstrators filed into City Hall, leaving a pile of signs bearing slogans such as "Shame on the All-American City!" on its steps.