Reporting Derek Valcourt
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Courthouse workers in Baltimore take to the streets, protesting what they call filthy and deplorable conditions inside their building.
Derek Valcourt has more on the complaints and what employees are dealing with.
Mitchell Courthouse is more than 110 years old and Courthouse East is 80 years old, and they have a lot of the problems that come with really old buildings.
Video taken by courthouse employees shows a rodent scampering along the window sill inside the city courthouse. It also documents dead mice, mice droppings on office floors, filthy sinks, broken toilets and urinals, busted towel dispensers, chipping paint, leaking office ceilings, taped up door glass, exposed wires and… you get the picture.
“It looks like people be peeing on the floor inside of the bathrooms. They don’t clean the bathrooms, they don’t clean the office. It’s just disgusting,” said Madonna Rice, a courthouse employee.
“Almost on a monthly basis, we have employees in the Family Division who literally get ill from the urine that leaks down from the overflowing toilet in lockup above them,” Pat Kelly, the local president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), said.
“People don’t live in their own homes in those kind of conditions and it certainly shouldn’t be allowed in the workplace,” Bishop Barry Chapman, the local director of the AFSCME said.
This has been an ongoing battle. Employees have been fighting some of these same problems at the courthouse for more than a decade.
That’s why dozens of angry courthouse workers protested Tuesday, calling on the mayor to meet with their union leaders to address the problem.
“We know they are not going to give us a new building. We’ve been asking for one for 10 years,” Kelly said. “But whatever it is that they keep claiming they are waiting for and they are trying to do, in the meantime, why just let us drop in a dark hole and disregard decency?”
The mayor’s office issued a statement saying she understands the long standing issues related to the aging circuit court buildings, pointing out there are a number of facility and infrastructure needs in Baltimore, including a major need for new and renovated city school buildings.
The mayor’s office points out she faced a major battle trying to pass a bottle tax this year to help renovate rundown city schools for kids. She did, however, budget money to renovate and improve the city state’s attorney’s offices. Courthouse workers say they deserve the same.
A city study found a brand new courthouse complex would cost $600 million. So far, neither the state or the city have come up with a way to get that kind of money.