Category Archives: Custodial

Union Activists: Give Laid-off Nashua School Custodians Their Jobs Back

Source: Jason Claffey, Nashua Patch, October 6, 2015

Union activists are demanding that Nashua school officials reverse its decision to fire 101 custodians. The Nashua Board of Education last month voted 7-1 to end its contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents the Nashua custodial workers. The board said they are looking to hire a private cleaning company instead. … The Nashua Labor Coalition balked at the move. Chairwoman Deb Howes said the board should have gathered more input from the community before making its decision.


Nashua custodians protest board of education privatization proposal
Source: Adam Sexton, WMUR, September 29, 2015

Union members in Nashua turned out in force Monday night to rally against the proposal to privatize the district’s custodial staff. On top of layoffs, more than 100 custodians are upset that the school board decided to proceed with the plan behind closed doors. The first that custodians learned of the proposal was when they received a written notice in their paycheck. … The Nashua Board of Education approved exploring the idea of laying off the district’s custodians earlier this month in a closed-door meeting with no notice.

Nashua Custodial Staff Could be Laid Off By School District
Source: Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Public Radio, September 28, 2015

Custodians in Nashua and their supporters are expected to hold a rally Monday evening ahead of a school board meeting to protest the board’s decision to end their union contract. … About 100 custodians could be out of a job at the end current school year if the district follows through with the decision.  That of course is a big concern for the workers and their union, AFSME Council 93 — but in the eyes of Jim Durkin, the union’s political affairs director, there’s another concern: who would replace the laid-off janitors. … Finances aside, Durkin insisted that officials need to seriously consider the risks of outsourcing labor, especially in schools. He points to several reported cases of misconduct by employees of a custodial contractor in the Massachusetts town of Chelmsford — including one who was arrested for stealing computers from a school.

Nashua school board votes to replace union custodians with private company, September 20, 2015

The city’s board of education has decided to hire a private company for custodial work starting in next July, a move expected to put more than 100 unionized custodians will be out of work. … The district is midway through a contract with the union, and the 101 positions will remain through June 30, 2016. The school board will issue a request for proposals from outside cleaning companies to assume custodial duties as of July 1, 2016

Unions react to school board decision
Source: Tina Forbes, The Nashua Telegraph, September 22, 2015

Union officials and Nashua teachers reacted Monday to the Nashua Board of Education’s surprise announcement last week it would not continue a contract with union representing more than 100 custodians’ at the end of the school year. Jim Durkin, communications director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees of Council 93, which includes AFSCME units in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont, said the union had no word from the school board prior to the vote on Wednesday. …

State legislators to hear concerns, protest against Haslam proposal

Source: Heidi Hill, The Daily Beacon, October 6, 2015

As the debate surrounding privatization drags on, the list of concerned parties grows larger and larger. Today, employees in Facilities Services, members of the Progressive Student Alliance, United Campus Workers, College Democrats and two Tennessee legislators will congregate to discuss wage reductions, layoffs and privatization plans for UT’s campus and beyond. This discussion is in response to protests from UT workers and students alike to Haslam’s proposal, fully exposed via a state government Request for Information, to outsource state jobs to private contractors. … State Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris will head up the dialogue among the voluntary UT representatives at the Frieson Black Cultural Center at 11:30 a.m. Harris commented in an Oct. 2 press release that the proposal represented the state’s tendency to “operate in a bubble and over-rely on consultants.” … Clemmons spoke about his and Harris’s plans to directly engage with students, employees and other representatives present at today’s meeting as such a plan pertains to the livelihood of hundreds of UT and state employees.


State lawmakers to visit UT for privatization discussion
Source: WBIR, October 5, 2015

Two Democratic state lawmakers are headed to the University of Tennessee’s campus this week to learn more about the effects of Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to privatize some of the school’s services. … Haslam’s plan would allow private companies to operate or maintain some state-owned  facilities, including those at prisons, parks, hospitals and universities. Haslam thinks the plan could make some departments more efficient. Opponents say it would destroy thousands of jobs, and they question whether it would actually save the state money.

Employees, students protest possible job outsourcing
Source: Kendal Groner, East Tennessean, September 23, 2015

ETSU employees, students and local activists rallied on Tuesday in response to Gov. Bill Haslam’s request for more information on outsourcing management jobs across the State of Tennessee. … Many state employees, ETSU employees among them, are concerned about the stability of their jobs in light of the efforts to consider outsourcing. While Haslam has not released any formal decisions regarding outsourcing possibilities, outsourcing consultants are currently being paid $612,000 annually by the state.

Consultants earn a combined $47K per month on state’s privatization effort
Source: Tim Humphrey, Knoxville News-Sentinel, September 20, 2015

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is paying more each month to three consultants retained to develop plans for privatizing management of all Tennessee government-owned real estate than it paid in salaries to four state employees assigned to the effort, state figures show. … Total monthly salaries for the four state employees thus total $37,997. Martin noted that the employees may have other responsibilities in addition to SEREM. Baskin, for example, is deputy director of the state Department of General Services. The combined average monthly payment to the three consultants totals $47,288 under the arrangements explained by Martin, though she said precise figures of payments actually made were not available Friday.

Haslam Shows Passion In Defense Of Real Estate Outsourcing Project
Source: Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio, September 17, 2015

In an uncharacteristically passionate defense, Governor Bill Haslam beat back criticism of a wide-ranging privatization plan on Thursday.  He says Tennesseans should want his office looking to save money through outsourcing property management of state buildings, thereby leaving money for more important duties, such as education. … Haslam points to recent instances of outsourcing reversals. Engineering for road projects have been brought in-house at TDOT. The Tourism Department has moved some marketing from contractors to state workers because it saved money. But internal emails, made public under the state’s open records law, do give the impression the Haslam Administration would prefer letting a private company take over property management, even though the consultant hired by the state has found less potential for savings than first thought. Haslam says everyone needs to take him at his word.
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Audit reveals UL was over charged by catering company Sodexo

Source: KATC, October 5, 2015

UL is responding to new allegations that it may have overspent thousands of taxpayer dollars to a UL food service provider. According to a newly released legislative audit, UL was over charged nearly $5,500 for tailgating events by food service provider Sodexo, from October 10th, 2009 to November 7th, 2013.  During that time, the audit says Sodexo allegedly overcharged UL nine times.  However, both UL and Sodexo say they’re working to credit the university back that money.


Audit report: UL at Lafayette food services company catered parties for student union director for free
Source: Lanie Lee Cook, The Acadiana Advocate, October 5, 2015

An audit released on Monday revealed the company selling food services to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette overbilled the school on some occasions, provided free catering for non-university events involving a former school official and brokered unwritten meal deals with university employees in exchange for cleaning services and football tickets. The state Legislative Auditor’s findings come almost a year after university auditors discovered possible misappropriation of public funds in its dealings with Sodexo Management Inc. The school is now “reviewing its contractual relationship” with the company, according to a written response to the audit by UL-Lafayette President Joseph Savoie. … Sodexo also owes the university money for cleaning services, as the union’s housekeeping staff cleaned the student dining hall — which is under lease and operated by Sodexo — while on the university’s clock and in exchange for meal plans, according to the audit. Each employee who cleaned the dining hall received a meal a day from July 2009 to August 2014, costing Sodexo at least $33,213, yet part of Sodexo’s contract includes cleaning the facilities it leases.

UC Berkeley independent contractor investigated for allegedly underpaying workers, refusing overtime

Source: Grace O’Toole and Brenna Smith, The Daily Californian, October 4, 2015

Department of Labor spokesperson Leo Kay confirmed that an open investigation of Performance First for potential wage violations is being conducted. Kay declined to comment further. California state law requires that employers pay workers 1.5 times their normal wage after working more than eight hours on a single workday or more than 40 hours in one week. If the allegations against Performance First are proven true, the company would be in violation of these overtime laws. According to the allegations made by workers, Performance First wrote two paychecks under two different names for one employee to avoid overtime payment and also asked employees to work extra hours without pay entirely. Additionally, employees allege that at times, workers did not receive lunch breaks and worked up to 80- or 90-hour weeks. … Beyond these allegations, the university is facing criticism from some California lawmakers for the unequal benefits and salaries received by UC contracted workers as compared with those of official UC employees. According to a report by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, a union that represents many UC employees, after three years working as a custodian, a contracted worker makes $11.05 an hour, while a UCSF custodian makes $17.01 an hour.


Feds Investigate Claims UC Berkeley Underpaid Custodial Workers
Source: Associated Press, October 1, 2015

Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a UC Berkeley custodial contractor underpaid workers who cleaned up after football games and other sporting events at the university. The Los Angeles Times reports employees of Performance First Building Services say they often worked 16-hour days, but were denied overtime and only paid $10 an hour.

UCSC wage hike effective Oct. 1
Source: Ryan Masters, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 1, 2015

UC Santa Cruz increased the minimum wage for employees, including contract workers, to $13 an hour Thursday. The wage hike is the first stage of a plan to raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour Oct. 1, 2016 and $15 an hour Oct. 1, 2017. All employees hired to work at least 20 hours a week are eligible for the raise, which UC President Janet Napolitano has dubbed the UC Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan. Napolitano announced the plan in July “to support employees and their families, and to ensure that workers being paid through a UC contract are likewise fairly compensated.” … Not everyone is convinced that the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan is a victory for contract workers. Todd Stenhouse, communications director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, UC’s largest employee union, said the wage hike perpetuates the contract worker’s “second-class citizen status.” “Contract workers make 53 percent lower wages than the directly employed and receive no benefits,” he said. “While we’re pleased that they will be making $13, the private company paying them charges the UC system $30 to $33 an hour.”

Workers allege 80-hour weeks with no overtime at UC Berkeley sporting events
Source: Chris Kirkham, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2015

Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a UC Berkeley custodial contractor underpaid workers who cleaned up after Golden Bears football games and other sporting events, denying them overtime pay for weeks that stretched to 80 or 90 hours. The probe of Performance First Building Services, which has provided janitorial services at UC Berkeley for nearly seven years, was launched by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the agency and former and current employees. … The state Legislature passed a bill last month that would require UC contractors to pay wages and benefits on par with direct employees of UC who perform comparable work. The bill has not yet been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Juliana Robles worked at Performance First from 2008 until she was fired in July, cleaning the California Memorial Stadium at UC Berkeley. During football season, she said, she worked seven days a week, often putting in 16-hour days from Thursday through Saturday to prepare for and clean up after Golden Bears games. She said she never received more than $10 an hour, though California law requires that employees be paid at least 1.5 times their regular pay after exceeding eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Robles said Performance First evaded the rules by issuing her checks under two names — one for her and one for her boyfriend, who hadn’t worked at the company for years.
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CPS to lose more custodians later this month

Source: Lauren Fitz-Patrick, The Chicago Sun-Times, October 1, 2015

Another 61 privately employed custodians who work in Chicago Public Schools are about to lose their jobs cleaning schools, though the district says many of them will be hired back in other buildings. … Several hundred custodians have been laid off since the private company Aramark took over custodial management at CPS in 2014. The layoffs take effect Oct. 13 and the affected employees have been notified, according to their union, the Service Employees Union International Local 1. … CPS anticipates that more than half of the 61 will be immediately offered jobs elsewhere in CPS, leaving about 20 people out of work. CPS has about 1,800 privately employed custodians and 825 who are employed by the Chicago Board of Education.


Rahm’s privatization of school janitors is still a mess
Source: Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, June 4, 2015

For the last several months, teachers in Chicago have been doing two jobs for the price of one: instructing kids, and occasionally taking a moment to mop, scrub, or vacuum their dirty classrooms. The extra duties are the result of a $340 million privatization boondoggle from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Among other things, it’s resulted in the Chicago Public Schools firing hundreds of janitors. Now teachers at Oriole Park elementary on the northwest side have decided to take matters into their own hands. They’ve filed a union grievance that, if successful, could force CPS to hire back some of the janitors. Apparently this is the state of things: to get CPS to clean its schools, teachers have to go all legal on them.

Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget /Aramark has so far billed Chicago Public Schools $86 million for what was supposed to cost $64 million
Source: Becky Vevea, WBEZ, April 27, 2015

The promise of cleaner schools at a lower price has turned out to be just that — a promise. Chicago Public Schools’ three-year contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark to manage all school cleaning services is $22 million over budget, according to procurement and finance records obtained by WBEZ. Aramark has billed Chicago Public Schools $86 million for the first 11 months of its three-year contract. The first year price tag was initially set at $64 million….
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WFISD implements new cleaning standards after staph found

Source: John Ingle, Times Record-News, September 22, 2015

The Wichita Falls ISD has implemented new cleaning procedures for locker rooms after three student athletes at Rider High School tested positive for staph infection in early September. Ashley Thomas, communications officer for the district, said the district learned of the positive test results on Sept. 8. The following day, the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District was asked to collect swab samples. … Lou Kreidler, director of health at the health district, said employees from the General Environmental office met with Aramark and discussed their cleaning procedures. She said it came down to the cleaning company simply not cleaning appropriately.

Outsourcing of staff avoided

Source: Jacklyn York,, September 22, 2015

In an effort to realize nearly $300,000 in budget cuts last spring, administrators considered outsourcing some campus services, including janitorial services and groundskeeping. … Eliminating nine positions, he said, was a better alternative for the university, noting that all of the positions were unfilled meaning that no people lost their jobs. Of the people in the positions considered for outsourcing, almost half of those have been with the university for 10 or more years, Owen said, noting that people working for the university tend to stay in their jobs much longer than when they work for a private company. …

Potentially harmful chemicals dumped outside dozens of Chesterfield County schools

Source: Mark Tenia, WRIC, September 4, 2015

Last month Chesterfield County’s environmental team let the school system know they had gotten an alert that floor cleaner had been dumped onto the ground outside of 36 schools. The county notified the state Department of Environmental Quality. … Officials say the custodians were trained on properly disposing chemicals, and have since been retrained. … Earlier this year Martin voiced concerns over outsourced custodians from GCA Services Group, responsible for eight schools in Chesterfield.  There were nearly 200 complaints against the company. A few months ago the school system announced a cleaning contract with SSC at 41 Chesterfield schools, all in an effort to save more than $3 million.


Custodial outsourcing: ‘This time it’s a lot better’
Source: Michael Buettner, Chesterfield Observer, June 24, 2015

School officials have expressed confidence that thorough upfront vetting and multiple layers of accountability will ensure that an expanded program of privatized custodial services at county schools will go more smoothly than the limited program that started last year. A committee of school principals and central office administrators has been working to finalize details of a contract with Knoxville, Tennessee-based SSC Service Solutions, and committee members said they already have been impressed with the company’s professionalism and attention to details. … The school division rolled out privatized custodial services at eight of the county’s 62 schools last year, and the contractor, GCA Services Group of Cleveland, Ohio, came under fire after school officials logged nearly 200 complaints about GCA custodians. The complaints ranged from failure to clean items like athletic mats to failing to lock schools’ exterior doors at night. Temple said she was still finding doors that had been left unlocked just the week before. “I feel like security is one of the biggest things [SSC is] bringing to us,” she said. A major purpose of the privatization program is to cut the school system’s spending on custodial services by $3.6 million, with the savings to be used to fund a 2 percent increase in teacher salaries….. SSC is in the process of hiring a regional manager who will work directly with Chesterfield [county], and school officials have participated in the interviewing process for that position, Evans said. …

In a bankrupt Pa. school district, teachers plan to work for free

Source: Lyndsey Layton, The Washington Post, August 28, 2015

Employees of the Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania will show up for work on the first day of school next Wednesday, but they don’t expect to get paid. The district, which has been struggling with financial and academic problems for decades, is on the edge of insolvency and cannot make payroll, state and local officials have said. So on Thursday, about 200 members of the local teachers union voted unanimously to work without pay as the new school year opens. They were joined by secretaries, school bus drivers, janitors and administrators. … Chester Upland is facing a $22 million deficit that could grow to more than $46 million without major intervention, Sheridan said. He blamed several factors: local mismanagement, state cuts in education spending under the previous governor and a state law that requires traditional school districts to pay charter schools significant amounts for students who live within their boundaries but attend charters. Public charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, have been growing to the point that they educate nearly half the students who live in the Chester Upland district. Chester Upland pays local charter schools about $64 million in tuition payments — more than it receives in state school aid.

Bus drivers cleaning Wichita schools in pilot program

Source: Suzanne Perez Tobias, The Wichita Eagle, September 13, 2015

The Wichita district is using bus drivers as part-time custodians at more than a dozen elementary schools as part of a pilot program aimed at keeping schools clean and holding down costs, officials said. Darren Muci, director of operations for Wichita schools, said the district plans to contract with First Student this semester to provide workers to clean cafeterias over the lunch period at 16 schools. … Wichita school board members on Monday will consider a contract with First Student for temporary cafeteria workers for the remainder of the fall semester. The district would pay $15 an hour per worker, according to the proposal – $45,000 or less for all 16 schools. … Several schools switched custodians to later shifts to clean classrooms, hallways and common areas at the end of the school day, Muci said. That left the schools needing extra help at lunchtime, but there weren’t enough funds to hire additional custodians, he said. Custodians, who are district employees, receive pay and benefits under the district’s contract with the Service Employees International Union Local 513.