Letter to the Editor: More accountability needed for private companies

Source: Tom DeLucia, President of AFSCME Local 287, New Haven Register, September 6, 2016

I, too, am a school custodian, but my employer is the New Haven Board of Education. When I was hired, I had to go to the police station to be finger-printed. There was also a background check to make sure I did not have a criminal record. Employees of private companies do not have to go through the same process we do. That’s one of the problems with outsourcing, but it’s a problem that can be fixed by demanding greater accountability and transparency on the part of the company hired to provide a service.

Related:

Felon arrested on New Haven gun charge worked for company contracted by city schools
Source: Estaban L. Hernandez, New Haven Register, August 2, 2016

A man police identified as a convicted felon facing gun possession charges was working as a supervisor for a company contracted by the school board for facilities services at the time of his arrest last weekend. Jorge Rivera, 35, was arrested Saturday after police said he pointed a stolen gun at another man’s face during an altercation. … Clark said Rivera worked for ABM since 2014. Mitchell Burns, project manager for ABM’s New Haven offices, said Tuesday he couldn’t comment on the matter. Burns declined to confirm that Rivera worked at ABM. Clark said the district has asked ABM to remove Rivera from the staffing they provide the district. Similar to Whaley, Rivera likely had minimal contact with students, if any. The district doesn’t have a say on Rivera’s employment with the company, Clark added. … What’s also unclear is what school facilities Rivera staffed. Clark said ABM supplies the district with more than 150 part-time custodians assigned across the district. Rivera’s duties included reviewing attendance sheets, assigning work and ensuring proper cleaning. …

Pushing Working Families into Poverty: Assessing the New Haven Plan to Privatize the Public Schools’ Custodial Services
Source: Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Political Economy Research Institute University of Massachusetts, Amherst, March 2011

The City of New Haven is considering outsourcing its public school custodial services to a private firm, GCA Services Group, to reduce the City’s projected $42 million deficit for fiscal year (FY) 2011-12. Outsourcing to this firm would cut the cost of the school custodial services in half, saving the City $8.1 million, equal to 19 percent of the deficit. This report assesses the major cuts in wage and benefits that this proposal will impose on New Haven’s currently employed custodians, including their impact on the families of the custodial workers.

The main findings are:
• The GCA Services Group proposed contract to provide public school custodial services would:

○ Reduce the current average wage among the New Haven Public School (NHPS) custodians by 40%, from $20.90 to $12.50 per hour;

○ Replace 186 full-time custodial positions with a largely part-time workforce; at minimum, 2/3 of the new positions will be part-time;

○ Eliminate health insurance benefits, overtime pay and bonuses for all part-time workers; eliminate retirement benefits for all workers.

• These severe pay and benefit reductions would effectively force the 186 lower-to-middle-income NHPS custodians and their families to bear the burden for fully 19 percent ―$8.1 million ―of the city’s projected $42 million budget deficit for FY2011-12. Yet, these 186 families represent less than one-half of one-percent of the 46,000 households in New Haven.