Panel backs making courthouse janitors county positions

Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, March 13, 2014

A Milwaukee County Board panel Thursday voted to revert to using county employees for 21 previously privatized janitorial jobs at the courthouse. The move was aimed at re-employing some of the dozens who were laid off in late 2009 when the housekeeping service was outsourced as a cost-saving measure. Those laid-off janitors will get no special preference for the new jobs because a three-year county job preference window for laid-off workers expired more than a year ago. The board’s finance committee voted 6-3 in favor of creating the 21 jobs, prompting applause from some of the laid-off workers. The move would increase county costs by $418,000 this year and $631,000 next year, according to an estimate. … José Rodriguez said he had worked 14 years as a janitor with the county when he was laid off and passed on an opportunity to work for Mid American, the private firm that now cleans the courthouse. The company offered about $8 an hour, he said. “I was making $14 (as a county employee) and I was struggling,” Rodriguez said. He said he was embarrassed now to have to rely on help from a son and food pantries to make ends meet. …

Related:
Milwaukee County won’t rehire us, laid-off housekeepers say
Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, August 27, 2013

Milwaukee County housekeepers laid off more than 3 1/2 years ago say they have been unfairly denied transfers to other county jobs. Few of the nearly 90 former county housekeepers landed other county positions, despite multiple applications made….

…The housekeepers were paid between $13.95 and $15.75 an hour at the county. They received a chance to apply for jobs with the private company hired to replace the county janitors, and at least two did that. Putaraksa and many others did not go that route because they said the pay and benefits were inferior — $5 to $8 an hour less. That was not enough to live on, said Clairette Riley, who worked nearly nine years as a county janitor. …

…MidAmerican Building Services holds the contract for cleaning the courthouse and nine other county buildings and has been paid $3.8 million since 2010, county records show. A different firm — CleanPower — was chosen as the preferred bidder for a new housekeeping contract at $3.3 million a year that includes all county facilities. But the County Board has not yet acted. Submission of a proposed contract for board approval was delayed in a dispute over whether Clean Power’s bid met the county’s minority hiring goal….