A better Tulane, a better New Orleans
Saturday January 19th 2019

Joyce Bradley

Miss Joyce
Miss Joyce

Joyce Bradley, Tulane Worker: After all of Those Years…They Didn’t Even Have the Respect.”

Joyce Bradley, Sodexo Worker from New Orleans 6:23 PM – April 13, 2010

I’ve been here the longest out of anyone I know. I never imagined I would be here 40 years. Since this is a prestigious college, I bragged that I worked at Tulane University and the people that I’ve met over the years. I was hoping to move my way up–and climb the ropes–to management. I was glad to be working at a university. We had benefits when I started, like hospitalization. Now I make $9.51 an hour. I am paid every two weeks and typically take home $450. I pay $350 a month in rent.

The Sunday before the storm hit, my mother and I evacuated to the Superdome. The first day, my mother passed out from the heat. She was bed ridden and in a wheel chair. We were in the Superdome for one week. Since she was so ill, they took her somewhere else, without telling me–and then they loaded us up and drove us away somewhere else. I had no idea where I was until we were right outside of Dallas. This was the scariest thing I ever had to go through-not knowing if my mother was OK. My mother was a tough lady–she was a domestic worker–she lost her voice due to mini strokes.

I was in Dallas for a week–in the convention center. I found a worker who helped me search for my mother–my family members found out we were separated and started searching. As soon as I knew that she was in a nursing home in Morgan City; I caught a plane back to Louisiana.

I started working again in September 2006–a year later. In that year after the storm, I was moving from hotel to hotel. My mother’s house had over six inches of water. When we returned, there was mildew everywhere and everything was destroyed.

My mother owned a home but we couldn’t afford the taxes after the storm so it’s blighted–$11,000 in taxes were owed. Memories come back to me when I see that house–memories of my childhood and teenage years. I lived in that house my whole life.

Since 2000, I had to take care of my mother more intensively–there was a sitter–she couldn’t be left alone.

I heard about the assistance program through Sodexo. They gave us money right after Katrina– it was based on how many quarters you had worked–I received $2,000–they were offering to put people up on campus, but that went belly-up.

I was the cashier since 1975 and would wish students good luck on their exams and tell them what was good to eat that day. I was a fixture at the cash register. Some come back for alumni week and they stop by Bruff Commons to see if I’m still here. Or if they were on campus or in town they swing by–that’s a plus. Knowing that the kids appreciate what I do gets me through the work.

After all of those years–it was heartbreaking after all of those years to show back up after Katrina–after all I had already been through–they didn’t even have the respect. It was like they hit me in the face when they told me to go upstairs and clean the tables. I can’t even think about it, it’s too painful. If I thought about it, I would have cracked from stress. I’m a proud woman so I’m going to do my job no matter what they tell me to do but this isn’t fair. I’m going to make it work no matter what and focus on the positive.

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