Category Archives: Call.Centers

Huge federal contractor ‘failed’ to pay workers $100 million in wages, union says

Source: Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, April 23, 2018
One of the country’s largest federal contractors has been accused of underpaying about 10,000 workers who run help hotlines for public health insurance programs, including the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, by up to $100 million over the past five years, according to four complaints filed Monday to the Labor Department.  The complaint brought by the Communications Workers of America alleges that General Dynamics Information Technology misclassified employees at call centers in Kentucky, Florida, Arizona and Texas to suppress their wages.  The union, which does not represent the workers, said the contractor hired or promoted workers into roles that require special training but paid them below government-set rates for the jobs they performed. The complaint covers the period since 2013, when GDIT started a $4 billion, 10-year contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. …


Contractor that handles public’s Medicare queries will do same for Affordable Care Act
Source: Susan Jaffe, Washington Post, June 20, 2013

Within days, the company that handles a daily average of more than 60,000 calls about Medicare will be deluged by new inquiries about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The six Medicare call centers run by Vangent, a company based in Arlington County, will answer questions about the health-care law from the 34 states that opted out of running their own online health insurance marketplaces or decided to operate them jointly with the federal government. ….. Running the 800-Medicare call centers may provide valuable experience, but Vangent’s track record reveals that it was slow to adapt when changes in the Medicare program caused dramatic spikes in demand. ….. Vangent, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Information Technology, will run both Medicare and the federal health exchange call centers under a contract worth $530 million in its first year.

Second DC Metro contractor charged with sexual assault

Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, August 11, 2016

A second van driver who was contracted by Washington’s transit authority has been charged with the sexual assault of a disabled passenger this week. Police in Fairfax County, a Virginia suburb of Washington, announced Thursday that Jose G. Pino Estrada of Alexandria has been arrested Tuesday for allegedly raping a 51-year-old woman. Estrada, 35, works for Diamond Transportation, which provides services for MetroAccess, a door-to-door service for elderly or disabled people who cannot use the Metro bus or rail systems. … The charges follow a separate arrest this week, in which a driver working for a different company contracted by Metro was accused of sexually assaulting an intellectually disabled passenger in the back of a MetroAccess van. …


MetroAccess Driver Accused of Sexually Assaulting Passenger
Source: Matthew Stabley, NBC 4, April 25, 2013

Metro Transit Police arrested a MetroAccess driver on a first-degree sexual assault charge Wednesday…. Porter works for MV Transportation, which provides MetroAccess service. Metro requires the company to perform background checks on employees who provide MetroAccess service. A check by News4 shows that Porter plead guilty in 2008 to driving on a suspended license and was put on probation. After its contract ends in June, MV Transportation will only operate a call center as part of a change in business model, Metro’s Dan Stessel said. Three other companies will operate the service, hiring drivers and providing maintenance. In 2010, MV Transportation launched an independent investigation into its hiring and training practices after four drivers were accused of sexually assaulting passengers.

Emergency dispatch consolidation plan advances

Source: Leon Lagerstam, QC Online, July 27, 2016

A decision to consolidate emergency dispatch centers into what’s called Public Safety Answering Points was approved Tuesday by a statewide 911 administrator. Administrator Cindy Barbera-Brelle emailed Rock Island County Emergency Telephone System Board chairman Steve Seiver that the county’s proposal has been accepted. … Agencies were required to submit a consolidation plan by the end of June and now have until June 30, 2017, to finish developing specific operational guidelines. Rock Island County was tasked with cutting its centers to three. Emergency telephone system board members decided to keep Rock Island and Rock Island County’s centers open, but close a Centre Station center handling Moline and East Moline calls, as well as Milan and Silvis. Moline, East Moline, and Milan decided to create a new dispatch center to be housed in Milan. Silvis has started negotiations with Rock Island’s department. …


RI County begins plans to merge police dispatch centers
Source: Leon Lagerstam, Dispatch Argus, July 10, 2016

A plan to consolidate local police dispatch centers was filed a day before its state-mandated deadline. The plan for what is officially known as Public Safety Answering Points — PSAPs– was needed by June 30. It was filed June 29, Rock Island County Emergency Telephone System Board chairman Steve Seiver said. … On June 29, 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that required reducing the six Rock Island County emergency dispatching centers to three by June 30, 2017. … Milan, Moline and East Moline will consolidate and be housed at Milan. Where Silvis will go will be determined later by the newly consolidated PSAPs, according to information in the “Application for 9-1-1 Consolidation or Modified Plan.” Silvis city administrator Jim Grafton said city leaders were disappointed they didn’t get to see a copy of the proposed application before a city council meeting could have been convened. An emailed copy of it arrived in Silvis June 28. Revisions were suggested, but a council meeting couldn’t be called in time to approve it. … Dispatch centers employ about 54 full-time employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, as well as part-time employees and supervisors, according to reports. Staffing and budgetary requirements will be addressed this year ahead of an implementation stage. Ignoring or postponing a PSAP consolidation decision would have jeopardized future 9-1-1 surcharge funding, according to materials.

Fraud on Wheels: D.C.’s Privatized Paratransit Service

Source: Jeremy Mohler, Capital & Main, July 15, 2016

Transportation is the backbone of a thriving and sustainable economy. Therefore, a public transit system should be judged by how it treats those that need it most, especially people with disabilities and our most marginalized communities. The question we should ask is this: Can everyone get where they need to go — to their job, school or the grocery store? If they can’t, then handing over control of public transit to the lowest bidder should be out of the question— for example, a private company, aiming to profit, doesn’t share this public purpose. … News broke last week that a private company transporting people with disabilities in Washington, D.C., billed the government for almost $200,000 in services it never provided. The paratransit contractor, MV Transportation, which even billed for transporting people who had long since died, chalked the fraud up to “billing errors.”  But MV Transportation’s issues are typical of a contractor cutting corners to increase profits. Is it a “billing error” when some paratransit drivers in D.C., because they are paid so little by contractors, have to rely on public assistance to keep afloat? … In the era of “smaller government,” every dollar counts. Just this week, a popular feature of D.C.’s paratransit service was dramatically cut back because of funding issues. As we detailed in In the Public Interest’s latest report, Cutting Corners, contractors regularly harm the public, workers and the environment in pursuit of profit. Across a variety of public goods and services, and at every level of American government, companies put their bottom lines above the public purpose of providing middle-class jobs and quality services to everyone. …


Investigators say MetroAccess contractor billed agency for picking up customers who had died
Source: Luz Lazo, Washington Post, July 6, 2016

A Metro contractor billed the transit agency for MetroAccess services it did not provide– including transporting customers who had died, according to a settlement announced Wednesday. In a lawsuit filed in February 2013 and settled in May of this year, MV Transportation also was accused of charging Metro for the use of wheelchair-accessible vehicles on trips taken by customers who did not need wheelchairs.  The rate for trips that require wheelchair-accessible service is $65, nearly twice as much as non-wheelchair trips. MV Transportation agreed to pay $184,000 for the “billing errors” but it did not admit to any wrongdoing, company spokeswoman Nikki Frenney-Wiggins said in a statement. … Officials on Wednesday announced they had reached the settlement agreement, resolving the claims that the contractor falsely billed Metro between Jan. 1, 2005 and Dec. 31, 2013. During that time, Metro paid MV about $168 million for providing paratransit services in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, according to the company. …

MetroAccess Workers Protest Private Contractor
Source: Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO, July 22, 2015

…According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 400 Transdev employees at this location, the company pays poverty wages, starting as low as $13.14 per hour. This sort of low-paying work combined with Transdev’s other inhumane demands, the union says, creates a toxic workplace with high turnover, resulting in poorer service for riders.

Atlantic City council to consider seeking bids to outsource services

Source: Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City, July 13, 2016

City Council on Wednesday will consider seeking bids to outsource some municipal services. Council will vote on requesting proposals for the operation of the Construction Division, payroll services and emergency dispatch services. Entering shared services agreements or giving contracts to lowest bidders to was mentioned in a June meeting on the city’s fiscal recovery plan. … City Council on Wednesday will consider seeking bids to outsource some municipal services. Council will vote on requesting proposals for the operation of the Construction Division, payroll services and emergency dispatch services. Entering shared services agreements or giving contracts to lowest bidders to was mentioned in a June meeting on the city’s fiscal recovery plan.  The city’s 2015 budget doesn’t specify the costs of the Construction Division, which is within the Licensing & Inspections Department, or payroll and dispatch services. … The council recently approved seeking bids for trash and recycling collection. Levinson said the county is reviewing the city’s Meals on Wheels transportation service costs to see if the county can do to for cheaper. The council will also vote on authorizing the city to sell developer Bart Blatstein Garden Pier for $1.5 million and awarding a contract to a company to sell ads on the exterior of some city vehicles. …

No privatization of Salem County 911 or jail medical staff to balance budget

Source: Bill Gallo, Jr,, June 15, 2016

Salem County’s 911 dispatch center and its jail medical staff will not be privatized as a way to balance the 2016 budget.  Freeholders voted 5 to 2 Wednesday afternoon to adopt a $81.3 million spending plan. To prevent outsourcing, the county is raising taxes by a penny more than originally planned, taking more from the surplus fund and adjusting other accounts. The budget also reinstates the 2-cent open space tax that was originally eliminated this year as a way to ease the overall burden on taxpayers. That money is earmarked mostly for farmland preservation, something the county leads the state in. … The adopted budget will raise county taxes 8.6 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Originally, freeholders had proposed a tax hike of 5.6 cents. In total, the amount to be raised by taxation will be $52,933,660.48. Each penny on the county tax rate raises about $500,000. …


Privatization of 911, jail nurses would save Salem County $1.1M, officials say
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr,, May 18, 2016

Salem County could save over $1.1 million by privatizing its 911 dispatch center and medical staff at its jail, officials say a cost analysis shows. It will now be up to the unions representing those county workers whether they can provide concessions that would come close to the savings that using outside firms would bring. … If privatization of the 911 center is OK’d, annual savings would be $950,646.36, Chief Financial Officer Katie Coleman said Wednesday. The privatization of the Salem County Correctional Facility’s medical staff would save an estimated $216,204.48. The combined overall projected annual savings is $1,166,850.84, according to Coleman. Coleman said the cost analysis for 911 and the nursing staff will be presented to officials from the Communication Workers of America to see if their workers can make concessions needed to match or come close to savings privatization could provide. … The projected savings to the county are based on the lowest bids received: One for 911 dispatching from IXP Corporation of Princeton for $2,398,487.50 and three received for medical services: $2,550,880 from CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlton, $2,262,051 from Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and $1,920,132 from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee. Michael A. Blaszczyk, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1085, said his union, which represents the 911 and jail medical workers, wants to see their jobs saved. …

Bids are in for possible Salem County privatization. What’s next?
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr,, May 15, 2016

On Friday, officials opened the lone bid for providing 911 dispatching services by a private firm. From IXP Corporation of Princeton, that bid was for $2,398,487.50. On May 6, three bids to provide medical services at the Salem County Correctional Facility were opened. They included: $2,550,880 from CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlton, $2,262,051 from Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and $1,920,132 from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee, according to the county. … The 911 center has approximately 37 full- and part-time employees. The jail nursing staff includes about 20 employees full- and part-time. Asked for how much the 911 center costs the county operate and how much the medical unit at the jail costs, a county spokesperson said those numbers were not available Friday. …

Don’t privatize our jobs, union workers tell Salem County freeholders
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr,, April 7, 2016

Union workers have a clear message for Salem County freeholders: Don’t privatize our jobs. One option the county administration is considering to reduce costs is trying to determine whether money can be saved by privatizing the county’s 911 dispatching services and the medical staff at the Salem County Correctional Facility. … Estimates on how much privatization would save Salem County weren’t discussed. Solicitor Michael Mulligan confirmed that the county has completed a draft of a request to seek bids for privatization of the jail nursing staff. And a draft to seek bids for countywide dispatching services is in the works. Before these requests for proposals, or RFPs, can be put out seeking bids, the freeholder board must OK that action. The 911 center in Mannington Township, which is overseen by the Salem County Sheriff’s Office, has 31 full-time and seven part-time employees. At the neighboring jail, also under direction of the Sheriff’s Office, the medical staff is comprised of 16 full-time employees and two part-time workers, officials said.

Barnegat considers outsourcing police dispatch

Source: Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press, January 13, 2016

The jobs of seven police dispatchers will end if the Township Committee agrees to outsource dispatch duties to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. The committee, in an effort to control costs, is considering an agreement that Mayor John Novak said would save the township as much as $400,000 to $500,000 per year. … Barnegat Police Chief Arthur P. Drexler said there was not enough money in the police department’s budget to fully staff the dispatch unit. Township officials said some employees in the unit have incurred six-figure salaries because of overtime. … “Our highest dispatcher’s salary is $51,164, having 16 years of experience; our lowest is $41,368, having 9 years of experience.  Starting salary is $31,040,” he wrote in an email to the Asbury Park press. The union has urged township officials to hire additional dispatchers to cut overtime expenses. … If Barnegat were to agree to outsource dispatch to the Sheriff’s Department, it would become the largest municipality in terms of year round population to have its police calls handled by Ocean County dispatchers. Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said most of the 11 towns his staff services – towns like Plumsted, Island Heights, Bay Head and Pine Beach – have smaller populations and police departments. Only Seaside Park and Seaside Heights have more officers and greater populations, and only during the summer months when the boroughs swells with tourists and vacationers.

Civil Service staff takes issue with plan to consolidate 911 center dispatchers

Source: Charles Maldonado, The Lens, December 21, 2015

The New Orleans Civil Service Department on Monday came out against a key provision of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s long-stalled proposal to bring the city’s 911 operations under one agency. Department staff members, asked to review the plan, said there is no need to remove Civil Service protections from workers once they’re moved into the consolidated system. Call-takers and dispatchers now work for one of three agencies: police, fire or EMS. To improve call response times, the Landrieu administration has proposed consolidating call-takers and dispatchers under the Orleans Parish Communication District, which runs the 911 call center.  They would no longer be city employees, but would instead work for the Communication District, under a contract with the city. … Civil Service staffers didn’t address the collective bargaining agreement. But they did offer a counter-proposal. Rather than taking approximately 130 employees out of the Civil Service system, designed to protect merit-based hiring and provide employees with disciplinary appeal rights, the city could simply create a new, consolidated city department. …

Mayor Decides Against Privatizing City’s 311 Call Center

Source: NBC Chicago, October 21, 2015

Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to put on hold a proposal to privatize the city’s 311 call center after several aldermen complained during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. … The proposal was part of the mayor’s budget plan, which included a massive property tax hike and a tax on e-cigarettes, among other things. If the call center were to be privatized, residents calling to complain about rats or report potholes would speak to employees of a private company instead of city workers, as they do now. … Opponents, including many 311 operators, said the outsourcing would be “harmful and wrong.” … They cited the added burden of training new employees and the loss of jobs to the city as negative side effects of the privatization.


Emanuel Pulls Plan To Privatize 311
Source: Chicagoist, October 21, 2015

Emanuel decided to pull his plan to privatize the city’s 311 system Wednesday morning, the Sun-Times reports. Last month, Emanuel said that by outsourcing the service to a private company the city would save “a million dollars each year,” and that the city didn’t have the money to upgrade it, which he estimated the city would be $40 to $50 million. … But many aldermen and the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees, the union that represents 311 workers, were opposed to the measure, especially given the history of previous privatization fails in Chicago.

Emanuel shelves plan to privatize 311 non-emergency system
Source: Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, October 21, 2015

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday shelved his controversial plan to privatize Chicago’s 311 non-emergency system after a rebellion by more than two-thirds of the City Council. Hours before the mayor’s latest retreat, 36 aldermen signed a letter to the mayor urging Emanuel to reconsider. They argued that services so pivotal to their residents should not be out-sourced. They must be provided by Chicagoans who know the city and its neighborhoods. … Emanuel has argued that the privatization plan has less to do with the $1 million in savings and more to do with the $40 million or $50 million that needs to be spent to upgrade what was once a ground-breaking, award-winning system.
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Newark OKs dispatcher agreement with county

Source: Kent Mallett, Newark Advocate, September 21, 2015

The city’s police dispatching will move from the police station to the Licking County 911 Center sometime next year, as a result of City Council’s 7-3 vote Monday night in favor of a two-year agreement among the city, county government and the county’s Emergency Management Agency. … The agreement states the city will pay the county $515,000 annually to perform its police and fire dispatching duties. City fire dispatching is already performed at the new 911 Center, which opened in April 2014 and uses computer-aided dispatch. The city’s eight police dispatchers, who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2963, could apply for the county jobs or attempt to remain city employees by bumping other city employees from their positions. … Lewyenne Shumaker, president of AFSCME Local 2963, said she does not expect any of the city dispatchers to apply for the county jobs because they would lose seniority as well as the city’s contribution to Public Employees Retirement System, and insurance benefits would not be as good. She said the union should have been involved in the negotiations.


Safety director speaks on dispatching proposal
Source: Anna Jeffries,, May 5, 2015

Since discussions began about moving the Newark Division of Police’s dispatching services to the Licking County 911 Call Center, safety director Bill Spurgeon hasn’t spoken much about the issue. But after the council approved a resolution Monday night, allowing the city to negotiate a possible plan, Spurgeon shared his thoughts with The Advocate on Tuesday. … The proposal was first presented to the council’s Public Service Committee in late March. The committee recommended that the council authorize negotiations and then vote again before the city enters any final contracts with the county. …