Expanding Access to Immigrant Workers through Evergreen Community College and Labor-Management Partnership:
Frontline Workers to Receive Critical Training


San Jose, CA | October 20, 2021 - Frontline, essential service workers have borne the burden of risky conditions since the beginning of the pandemic. As the COVID public health crisis continues to disrupt the janitorial industry, frontline workers remain highly vulnerable to COVID-19 and the contagious Delta variant. To address this, Evergreen Valley College and Building Skill Partnership, a California-wide nonprofit, have come together to train frontline property service workers on proper cleaning and maintenance practices to protect their health and that of building occupants.

The Infectious Disease Certification (IDC) training will be offered to janitors across Silicon Valley. Many of the participating janitors are employed by contractors from major technology companies. This high-road training partnership provides an opportunity for immigrant workers to obtain knowledge to protect their health and safety and that of building occupants.

Employees will gather in person at their workplaces for IDC online training sessions provided by Building Skills Partnership (BSP) and Evergreen Valley College (EVC) instructors from October 12 - December 14, 2021.

"I believe janitors and custodians have been the most overlooked frontline workers during the pandemic. It has been their job to keep us safe, but who is keeping them safe?" said Tammeil Y. Gilkerson, President of Evergreen Valley College. "We are very excited to partner with Building Skills Partnership on developing and providing this industry-recognized Infectious Disease Certification program.  The program serves a critical group of California's most vulnerable workers, 97% of which are Latino immigrants, and will not only ensure their safety but help provide pathways toward economic advancement."

The course offers information on diseases property service workers could be exposed to through their work, via viruses, bacteria, fungus, and parasites, as well as how to protect best themselves and the building community they serve. Participants will learn the best cleaning and disinfecting practices to avoid pathogens in the workplace through concepts like time of contact for effective disinfecting, dilution rate of chemicals and safety measures when using them; basic ergonomics to protect janitors from labor-related injuries.

"The need for more training opportunities in the janitorial and low-wage industries is especially pressing right now, as cleaning workers shoulder the burden of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and Delta variant. Major employers are concerned about these issues and want to best protect their employees," said Luis Sandoval, Executive Director of Building Skills Partnership.

Based on CDC, World Health OrganizationEnvironmental Protection AgencyCalOSHA, and other official sources, the course offers detailed guidance on preventing COVID-19, symptoms, risk levels, vaccines, contact tracing, and the importance of flattening the curve to avoid overcrowding hospitals.

Additionally, the course raises awareness of misinformation on the current COVID-19 crisis and teaches janitors how to identify false information in social media, general news media and how to find trustworthy sources of information.

Building Skills Partnership is a California nonprofit that works to improve the quality of life for property service workers from low-wage industries and their families by increasing their skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement. BSP represents a unique partnership between over 75 building service companies, 40 building owners, and SEIU-USWW to train 5,500 property service workers annually. The organization provides opportunities to fully address the unique barriers immigrant workers and their families face in realizing the benefits of social, civic, and economic integration.

Through its innovative partnership strategy, BSP serves as a model for delivering sector-based workforce development training to help low-wage and low-skilled immigrant workers in the commercial janitorial and airport service industries retain employment, access career mobility, and prepare for 21st century jobs.

The Infectious Disease Certification programs exemplifies BSP's high-road programs, designed to provide equity, sustainability, and job quality through skills strategies created to support economically and resilient communities. BSP's high-road programs are part of the California Workforce Development Board's High Road Training Partnership, which is funded through the California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improvising public health, and the environment -- particularly in disadvantaged communities.


About Building Skills Partnership

Building Skills Partnership (BSP) programs improve the quality of life of property service workers in low-wage industries, as well as their families and communities, by increasing their access to education, leadership, and career advancement. Founded in 2007, the organization offers programs throughout California, serving Los Angeles, Mountain View, Oakland, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose. BSP is a 501(c)3 non-profit collaboration between SEIU-United Service Workers West, janitorial employers, building owners, and community leaders. The organization reaches 5,500 workers annually in career and education programs that enable their personal and professional success.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, BSP has partnered with several foundations, including the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The WES Mariam Assefa Fund, Crankstart, UnidosUS, The San Francisco Foundation, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, and the DWIU-USWW to develop rapid response initiatives that connect workers virtually to employment, health, and emergency resources. (www.buildingskills.org)

About Evergreen Valley College
Evergreen Valley College opened its doors in 1975 to 3,000 students and currently hosts more than 8,000 students from more than 70 countries. The rich variety of cultures, which both enhances and enriches campus life, comprises one of the most diverse student bodies within the California Community Colleges system. And, according, the Chronicle of Higher Education's "Diversity Index", EVC ranks #4 in the nation among colleges with the greatest racial and ethnic diversity among faculty members among all two-year, public institutions. EVC is a 2021 Best College for an Associate Degree, according to GradReports, and is ranked as one of the Best 15 Colleges in Northern California, according to Best Value Schools. (www.evc.edu).