KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — University of Tennessee employees are protesting over wages, sick leave and mandatory overtime.

On Thursday night, several workers gathered for the rally and their cause.

“We work 12 hours straight without a break,” said Patrica Curtis, when talking about her gameday schedule. “I came in at 10 a.m. to 10 at night, no break.” 

Curtis is a custodian on the UT campus. She and several other workers and supporters gathered at the torch bearer statue Thursday to ask for changes connected to their jobs.

“Building service custodians who keep the university running day in and day out aren’t making a living wage to live in Knoxville,” said an unnamed supporter at the rally.

The campus custodians want $20 dollars per hour instead of the $15 they get now. They are also asking for no more mandatory overtime.

“These people treat us with such disrespect and violate our human rights,” said Curtis. “You can’t miss one day of work without getting a doctor’s note.”   

For A’Deidra Wells, who has worked at UT for 14 years, the demands make sense.

 “I’m just hoping that our voices are heard, and we can get an improvement.”

At the rally, she and other custodians had the support of several people including Mia Romano, a UT Spanish Lecturer and President of a local union.

“We have tried to go through the UT channels, and nothing is happening,” said Romano.

After speeches and sharing comments from other custodians, the group made its way to UT chancellor Donde Plowman’s office to drop off their demands and signatures.

Romano says campus custodians are the behind-the-scenes workers who make UT shine.

“If they stopped working we would notice it immediately – trash and cleanliness,” said Romano.

She believes that they deserve what they are asking for. 

” These custodians are asking for better pay and better conditions so they can do their job better and make this campus look amazing,” said Romano.

While Plowman did not meet with the group Thursday night, the university did release a statement.

“Our custodians are important members of our Volunteer family, and we appreciate their dedication and service to keep our campus a beautiful space for all students, faculty, and staff. We have taken significant steps to increase pay and address gaps in compensation. In April, the state approved a 4 percent salary pool for the second year in a row to fund merit and market increase for employees. In January, the university raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour and adjusted the wages of employees in nearby market ranges to account for what’s known as salary compression. We continue to encourage supervisors to be creative, compassionate, and flexible in their scheduling and to work with employees who are sick or need to take time off work,” shared the university.