Category Archives: Custodial

T skirts records request (again) amid privatization fight

Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, October 23, 2016

The MBTA was quick to say last month that it had no intention of releasing a long-sought consultant’s report, responding within hours of an attorney general “enforcement” letter that it intended to detail (again) why it should remain shielded from the public. Nearly a month later, the agency still hasn’t providing anything — except evidence of another loophole in the state’s flimsy public records law. … In ordering the T to comply in a letter sent Sept. 29, Jonathan Sclarsic, the director of Healey’s Division of Open Government, wrote the transit agency should do so “promptly.” But the order included no specific timeline and as of Friday, the AG’s office had yet to receive anything — though a Healey spokeswoman said officials “continue to be in touch” about it. An MBTA spokesman said the T’s attorneys are still working in the hopes of responding “as soon as possible.” …


Marty Walsh pledges to support Carmen’s Union vs. MBTA
Source: Jordan Graham, Boston Herald, October 21, 2016

Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined hundreds of union workers outside the State House demanding an end to privatization of the MBTA — one of the few times Walsh has publicly disagreed with Gov. Charlie Baker. “I want to make it perfectly clear today, as the mayor of the city of Boston … I stand with the workers on this side,” the former union chief told a crowd of orange-clad union workers. “I will stand with you until this issue is over.” The unions have been fighting tooth and nail to beat back attempts from the MBTA to privatize T services in recent months, but this is the first time Walsh has come out in support. …

MBTA hires McKinsey to study more privatization
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, October 18, 2016

Even more privatization for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority could be on the horizon, after agency officials recently agreed to pay nearly $1 million to consulting giant McKinsey to explore saving money on driving and maintenance costs. The September contract indicates that consultants will focus on making its subway, light rail, and bus lines more efficient through “new operating models.” The contract, which pays for a month and a half of work at a $156,000 rate, also suggests that its bus operations could be particularly vulnerable for outsourcing. … Members of the fiscal and management control board have already indicated in recent months that the agency would look closer into bus maintenance and operations for outsourcing, and the new deal with McKinsey indicates those changes could be fast approaching. The board recently approved a deal to privatize its cash counting department, which officials had painted as dysfunctional and plagued with problems. Under the new contract, McKinsey officials said they could identify a range of options for using more outside companies, including “performance-based vendor contracts for some maintenance activities.” McKinsey has done similar work for the MBTA before. The company was retained by the state to create a special panel that essentially paved a roadmap for the ways Governor Charlie Baker’s administration would try to remake the agency. …

Union claims MBTA overestimating savings from cash handling privatization
Source: Andy Metzger, Berkshire Eagle, October 17, 2016

The savings from outsourcing MBTA cash handling will be a fraction of the amount claimed by T management, according to union officials who on Monday accused management of inflating its savings estimates and downplaying costs of hiring the private contractor Brinks. “The MBTA’s analysis does not include the wages for at least five employees to be vendor managers, and discounts the added cost of retaining money room employees as bus drivers,” Boston Carmen’s Union delegate Patrick Hogan said at a board meeting. “Those money room employees will be at the top of the bus driver wage scale as opposed to the savings of hiring new drivers at a lower rung of the wage scale.” … MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve said the move would improve service and save the cash-strapped system $8.2 million a year, and stood by those goals on Monday. Board members did not respond to the union officials during Monday’s meeting. After the public portion of the meeting, Shortsleeve said the auditing firm KPMG had analyzed fiscal 2016 costs. … Hogan told the control board outsourcing will save the T $330,000 “at most,” which he said is less than has been expended on consultants associated with outsourcing. The KPMG audit, dated Oct. 5, found the cash-handling operations cost $11.8 million, including benefits. Brinks offered to take over the work for $3.6 million, and the board approved the outsourcing on Oct. 6. … James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, led a Faneuil Hall rally against privatization last week and on Monday told the board the outsourcing plan relied on a “scorched-earth audit that the MBTA has still not publicly released — a report that made baseless accusations against MBTA employees.” Shortsleeve, who is also acting general manager, said the financial audit of the money room is public. He said some aspects of an analysis of the security of the facility that handles $119 million of MBTA revenue have been withheld because of “concerns about security.” …

MBTA Unions Call Reduced Fines For Keolis “Exhibit No. 1” Against Privatization
Source: Isaiah Thompson, WGBH, October 17, 2016

MBTA officials exploring further privatization of the T were met with opposition Monday from a reliable source: The T’s unions, who have been protesting plans to further privatize the transit agency with increasing urgency as T officials consider outsourcing such core services as bus routes. … The meeting came just a day after a report by the Boston Globe found T officials dropped half, or more than $800,000, of fines racked up by Keolis, the private company operating the T’s commuter rail, during the notorious winter of 2015, when commuter service faltered.     In a statement to WGBH News, T officials pointed out Keolis had been fined $839,000 for on time service failures; the $839,000 in fines dropped were related, the statement said, to other factors for which there exist exceptions for unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances. … Nevertheless, seizing on the news, Carmens Union president James O’Brien told the board that Keolis, which lost more than $20 million its first year in operation, is an example of the danger of privatizing services, calling the forgiven fines “almost a million dollars that could have been invested into our broken system.”   The union also put out a report today challenging the amount T managers say they will have saved by privatizing money collection services. …

Lawmakers attack privatization at the MBTA
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, October 12, 2016

State Senator Marc Pacheco called on lawmakers Wednesday to go back into session to prevent more outsourcing at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, a year after legislators gave the agency more latitude to privatize its services. Governor Charlie Baker’s administration last year successfully lobbied lawmakers to suspend the so-called Pacheco law, which restricts the state government from outsourcing jobs. But in light of the MBTA’s recent move to privatize its cash collection department, Pacheco said the Legislature should reverse its stance. … Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, spoke at a pro-union rally at Faneuil Hall, where he was joined by a host of union leaders and Democratic lawmakers. They were flanked by giant, inflatable animals conveying pro-union messages — a “fat cat” choking a worker in a hard-hat and a menacing pig dressed in a suit. … More than 70 union workers are expected to lose their jobs, although they would be offered bus driving positions. On Wednesday, union officials and lawmakers criticized the deal. Some pointed out that Shellie Crandall, the consultant hired by the MBTA to analyze the cash collection department, had worked extensively for both Brink’s and GardaWorld, the two companies that bid for the contract. …

Amid union outrage, baker touts privatization’s impact on bus system
Source: Andy Metzger, Berkshire Eagle, October 7, 2016

The president and six other executive board members of the Boston Carmen’s Union were being arraigned in Charlestown District Court Thursday, right around the time the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board voted to outsource cash-handling jobs, which will soon be performed by the private firm Brinks. Charged with unlawful assembly for locking a gate to the money room early Thursday morning and allegedly refusing to move, the seven were released midday and are due back in court Nov. 28, according to the office of Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley. … Control board member Brian Lang was not present for the unanimous vote, and according to Poftak, he would have voted against the privatization. Lang is president of Unite Here Local 26, a hospitality union, representing Harvard dining hall workers who launched a strike and picketing action Wednesday. Gov. Charlie Baker defended the privatization effort on Thursday. … The MBTA is also looking to outsource the maintenance of its fare gates, seeking to move toward a more cash-free transit system, potentially placing electrical workers’ jobs in jeopardy. Lou Antonellis, president of IBEW Local 103 representing 300 MBTA electricians and technicians, said his members do not have the “fall-back” rights that allow workers to return to other positions when their jobs are eliminated. …

The MBTA Privatizes Cash Collection, The First Of Many Possible Outsourcing Goals
Source: Mike Deehan, WGBH, October 6, 2016

The MBTA will eliminate it’s in-house cash collection operation and outsource the work to a private contractor, the first major example of Gov. Charlie Baker’s MBTA exercising its authority to privatize agency services in the name of cost savings. The T’s control board voted today to approve the two-year, $7.7 million contract to take over the so-called “money room” with logistics firm Brinks. It’s the first time the T has privatized services since Democratic leadership in the Legislature granted Baker’s hand-picked control board the authority to do so last year. … The T faces an annual budget deficit of over $100 million. The cash collection contract is expected to save the T $8.6 million in the first year. Shortsleeve said the “flexible contracting” the Legislature authorized is critical to solving the T’s more than $100 million annual budget deficit and improving service. Shortsleeve anticipates more resistance from labor as the MBTA looks to privatize services within the core transit function of the T. …

MBTA votes to privatize money room
Source: Andy Metzger, Boston Business Journal, October 6, 2016

The private firm Brinks will take over cash handling at the MBTA after a unanimous vote by the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Thursday. Brian Lang, the board’s union representative was unable to attend the meeting and would have voted in the negative, said Steve Poftak, a member of the board who presided over the meeting. … Union representatives have strenuously opposed the move, and seven top officials at the Boston Carmen’s Union were arrested early Thursday morning outside the MBTA’s money room in Charlestown. MBTA Transit Police gathered outside the money room where MBTA union officials were arrested early Thursday morning. [Photo: Andy Metzger/SHNS] The vote Thursday marks the first time the MBTA has taken advantage of options made available under a three-year window of increased flexibility in outsourcing that lawmakers granted the transportation authority last year. … Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman took aim at Gov. Charlie Baker, who has urged the T to seek outsourcing as a means of improving service and balancing its budget. …

EDITORIAL: Outsourcing MBTA jobs is necessary for progression
Source: The Daily Free Press, October 7, 2016

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is flawed. We are reminded again and again of the fact, from the winters of 2014 and 2015 to this week’s latest train derailment at Copley. From the enormous amount of turnover of leadership positions to iffy service (remember late night T service?), the MBTA is a nightmare. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has finally announced a battle of sorts against the prehistoric beast. Baker announced the privatization of jobs in the cash-counting department by outsourcing the jobs to Virginia-headquartered Brink’s, according to a Boston Globe article. The announcement followed incriminating findings from an outside consultant, which included over-employment and minimal productivity. The Globe also reported that the consultant found “security lapses, from duct-taped vault doors and missing cameras to a lax tracking system for keys” related to the department. Baker once even ridiculed the department for “cutting sunroofs” into its armored vehicles, a claim that union officials decried as false. … The debate of public versus private jurisdiction, particularly with a public good like public transportation, has been longwinded. In this situation, privatization has the potential to overcome the faults of bureaucracy. By shifting the hands from people who have far more other things going on than the priority of a morning commute to people who dedicate their careers to such a thing is not a bad move. In fact, it is incredibly strategic and Boston residents are begging for such a change, any change. The public and private sectors need to collaborate to better our city. When the two put their differences aside, we have the potential to achieve great things. There is no better example of them failing to do so than with the discontinuation of late night T service. Not funded by the government and without the intervention of private entities, the service ceased, once again leaving a city stranded after midnight. … Certainly jobs are going to be cut, but at what cost? The average Joe who dutifully works in the cash-counting room will be without a job, but what about all of the other average Joes who rely on the T to get to work each day? Boston workers rely on public transportation to get to and from work and cannot contribute to the economy in their fullest ability if hindered from commuting. Outsourcing jobs needs to be viewed as a move for the greater good. …

7 arrested in union protest at MBTA’s ‘money room’
Source: John R. Ellement, Boston Globe, October 6, 2016

Seven union officials were arrested by Transit Police Thursday as the Carmen’s Union set up a picket line outside the MBTA’s “money room” in Charlestown, protesting a move by the T’s top manager to privatize the collection of cash on the financially strapped transit system. Police made the arrests “to protect the safety and well being of all MBTA employees,’’ T spokesman Joseph Pesaturo wrote in an e-mail. “By padlocking the gates, the union put the safety of employees inside the facility at risk.’’ Those arrested were James O’Brien, president of Carmen’s Union Local 589, and six members of the union’s executive board, union spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said. The officials are expected to appear in Charlestown Municipal Court to face charges of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. … The move by the union comes hours before the Fiscal Management and Control Board will be asked by acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve to award a five-year, $18.7 million contract to Brink’s, a national cash-collection and security company headquartered in Virginia. … Officials say the deal could save as much as $8.6 million in the first year and would replace the union employees currently assigned to the counting room. O’Brien said Thursday he thinks 42 jobs will be impacted. The recommended contract is the first major salvo in a battle over privatization between the MBTA and its unions. As part of the Baker administration’s push to cut costs, the MBTA is seeking to outsource its warehousing department and looking into privatizing bus maintenance and driver jobs. …

Union promises fight as MBTA moves to privatize cash-counting jobs
Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, October 5, 2016

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is poised to privatize dozens of jobs in its cash-counting department, which would mark Governor Charlie Baker’s first major move to outsource positions in the transit system. Acting general manager Brian Shortsleeve said he will recommend Thursday that the MBTA’s board award a five-year, $18.7 million contract to Brink’s, a national cash-collection and security company headquartered in Virginia. Officials say the deal could save as much as $8.6 million in the first year. … The cash-counting department, familiarly known as the “money room,” handles nearly $200 million a year. It has been considered poorly run for years, and a 2012 state audit showed that computer problems caused the MBTA to record receipts for more money than was actually deposited. An outside consultant, Shellie Crandall, recently said the cash-counting operation has twice as many workers as similar private companies, yet completes only a small fraction of the work. Crandall, who has worked at both Brink’s and GardaWorld, a rival security company, also found a range of security lapses, from duct-taped vault doors and missing cameras to a lax tracking system for keys. … Union officials say they plan to fight the outsourcing efforts and threatened to invoke a Federal Transit Administration rule that could cut off funding to the MBTA. The union has also contacted the bidding companies, saying they would be subject to union agreements. …

Plan to privatize T sets up battle among union, Baker and lawmakers
Source: Christian M. Sade, Newbury Port Daily News, October 5, 2016

Plans to privatize parts of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority are in danger of bogging down like a subway car at rush hour, with the state’s largest transit union vowing to fight the move. Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker’s hand-picked board that oversees the MBTA suggested looking for a third party to hire drivers and handle maintenance, reducing operating costs. The board singled out bus operations, warehousing and maintenance, the privatization of which could affect hundreds of jobs. The MBTA’s bus system has 1,700 drivers and more than 450 maintenance workers. … But James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, which represents about 4,000 MBTA workers, said it plans to fight the privatization proposal. The plan will cost jobs, he said, and diminish MBTA service. … Last year, the Legislature suspended the so-called Pacheco Law that requires a privatization proposal be vetted by the state auditor, giving the MBTA a three-year window to privatize services in order to save money. The MBTA’s need for revenue has pushed it to ask riders to dig deeper. On July 1, fares on the commuter rail, subway and bus systems increased an average 9.3 percent, sparking criticism from commuters and lawmakers. The MBTA last raised fares two years ago, increasing them an average of 5 percent. That followed a massive, 23 percent increase approved in 2012. Previous increases were in 2000, 2004 and 2007. …

Mayor Walsh defends T union bosses sending letters over privatization
Source: Jordan Graham, Boston Herald, September 29, 2016

Mayor Martin J. Walsh slammed accusations the Boston Carmen’s union is bullying potential bidders vying to run the MBTA’s beleaguered money room. “The union can advocate however they want, the bullying question is getting a little ridiculous now,” Walsh said. “Unions advocate for their members, that’s what they do, they’re supposed to advocate for their members.” The Herald reported today the Carmen’s union has sent letters to potential bidders claiming they must use union labor or face a lawsuit. The MBTA is calling the letters a “threat” to intimidate firms from bidding for the contract.

Why does the T have to squeeze a vulnerable workforce?
Source: Marcela Garcia, Boston Globe, September 21, 2016

AS THE MBTA looks to reduce its operating deficit, it has found a new and unsettling target: the largely below-ground workforce of contract janitors. They’re the least-paid and most vulnerable people associated with the public transportation system. Feces, urine, vomit, and used needles are constant occupational hazards. More than 120 janitors have been affected by cuts, out of a total staff of about 300. They include at least 50 janitors who have been laid off, according to union officials, while the rest have seen their hours reduced, with some losing their health insurance coverage. … At a time when the public is thinking more and more about ensuring that people make a living wage, why are we letting our public transportation system, largely supported by taxpayers, pull the rug from under a group of people who do this unappreciated but extremely important work? The savings are coming on the backs of janitors who make $18 per hour. Contrast that with the 59 T employees who earned over $100,000 in overtime alone last year, according to a Springfield Republican/ report. … The T says the savings for the move will add up to $8.1 million over two years — in the context of an annual budget of over $2 billion. The cuts come after the MBTA found it had been overpaying the two contracting companies, S.J. Services and ABM, by nearly 50 percent. … Union officials are struggling to make sense of the math that the T administrators say justifies the firing of janitors. Roxana Rivera, vice president at 32BJ SEIU, fears “the MBTA has grossly exaggerated the amount of cost overruns that are attributable to pay for janitors.” The union recently filed complaints against the two subcontractors with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing unfair labor practices. At the least, the T should be more transparent and release detailed information related to the decision to drastically cut its cleaning staff. …

Privatization supporters urge MBTA board to pursue opportunities
Source: Colin A Young, WWLP, September 19, 2016

A week after organized labor supporters crowded a meeting of the MBTA’s control board to protest privatization of MBTA jobs, a group of elected officials spoke up in favor of privatization at a T board meeting Monday. Rep. Joseph McKenna, a Webster Republican, told the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board that the agency should continue to look for ways to save money, even if that means privatizing the jobs of bus drivers or maintenance workers. … MBTA officials are actively exploring privatization of inventory and cash management operations in an attempt save money and improve services at the agency, which has battled perennial budget imbalances. And the FMCB in a Sept. 1 report signaled it might seek outsourcing of its core operations. The Democrat-controlled state Legislature last year suspended the so-called Pacheco Law, which requires a privatization proposal to be vetted by the state auditor, to give the MBTA a three-year window to privatize services. … The Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, which represents more than 4,100 of the MBTA’s roughly 6,500 employees, has vigorously opposed privatization, and last week packed the T’s meeting room with union members and supporters who spoke passionately against privatization. …

Pacheco Law Reprieve Backers Rail Against MBTA Privatization
Source: Matt Stout, Mass Transit, September 13, 2016

Democratic lawmakers who voted last year to give Gov. Charlie Baker and the MBTA more flexibility in privatizing parts of the T are now railing against the cash-strapped agency as it considers outsourcing bus routes, maintenance and other core functions, joining a chorus of unions slamming the move. Just one legislator voted against last year’s budget that gave the T a three-year reprieve from the so-called Pacheco Law, which critics say puts up hurdles to outsourcing public work. But as unions denounced the move at a T board meeting, several legislators — some of whom passed the provision through gritted teeth — quickly staked out a side in the brewing debate. …

MBTA workers protest outsourcing of transit systems
Source: Associated Press, September 13, 2016

Transit workers are calling on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to put the brakes on further privatization efforts. Members of the Boston Carmen’s Union packed a meeting of the MBTA control board on Monday to protest the outsourcing of services that could be expanded to include bus drivers and maintenance operations. The union says MBTA employees do not deserve to lose their jobs to private companies seeking to make a profit. The union also held information picketing outside the state transportation building.

MBTA could privatize maintenance and bus driver jobs
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Herald, September 6, 2016

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is considering the privatization of driver and maintenance worker jobs, a prospect that could lead to the layoff of hundreds of employees, as it tries to cut into a multimillion dollar deficit. The MBTA’s fiscal and management control board, which oversees the agency, told legislators in a report that MBTA management is focusing on drivers, operations employees, and maintenance workers — particularly for buses — because those areas account for about 85 percent of the MBTA’s operational costs. … The MBTA has 450 bus maintenance workers and 1,700 full- and part-time bus drivers. The agency has not yet publicly outlined specific plans, nor revealed how many jobs would be affected by privatization of bus routes and maintenance if it takes place. In the report, the board notes that many transit systems have formed partnerships with private companies to provide driving or maintenance services. … The potential outsourcing of operations or maintenance jobs will probably be controversial. The Boston Carmen’s Union, the T’s largest labor group, has vehemently opposed ongoing efforts to privatize other departments, such as the warehouse and cash-counting operations. This marks the first time the agency has expressed serious interest in delving into privatization of what are considered the “core services” of the agency. …

The MBTA could consider bus privatization, and one T leader is not on boardSource: Adam Vaccaro,, September 6, 2016

The report was released last week and focuses on ways the T has already, or may soon, contract with private companies to save money. These kinds of partnerships became easier for the MBTA to forge last summer, when — as part of a reform push led by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that also created the T’s control board — the beleaguered agency won a three-year reprieve from a state law favored by labor unions. The law requires public bodies to undergo a multi-step process in order to privatize a service already being offered by public employees. The privatization the T has explored so far pertains to its corporate services, the report said. But on the final page, the board said the MBTA could more effectively rein in costs by targeting “those areas that make up about 85 percent of all costs, namely operations and maintenance.” A paragraph later, the report specifically named the bus system as “an example of an area of opportunity,” saying the handful of bus routes the T already runs through private companies operate cheaper than those run in-house.

Marty Walsh throws latest MBTA privatization idea under bus
Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, September 6, 2016

Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday came out swinging against the MBTA for weighing the privatization of core functions such as bus routes and maintenance, calling it a “mistake” that could pave the way to widespread outsourcing at the cash-strapped agency. … The Herald reported on Saturday that the MBTA is taking a hard look at private contracts within its massive operations and maintenance departments, which account for $875 million of spending each year. … The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board, writing in a report filed with lawmakers, said the agency is “beginning to actively examine” the possibility, citing areas such as its bus operations, where the T’s bus drivers, at $35.86 per hour, are the highest-paid in the country, according to a T analysis. Under the law Gov. Charlie Baker signed last year, the T has just a three-year window — or through mid-2018 — to identify areas to privatize without the restraints of the so-called Pacheco Law. Facing a $110 million deficit, the T has thus far sought out private vendors for smaller departments, such as its parts warehouse and its “cash” room. …

MBTA eyes opening door to additional privatization
Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, September 3, 2016

The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board announced it is targeting overall “operations and maintenance” that make up 85 percent of all annual costs, according to a 17-page report sent to lawmakers Thursday that was obtained by the Herald yesterday. The report identified several examples of “an area of opportunity” to “actively examine,” including bus operations, where drivers, at $35.86 per hour, are the highest paid in the country, according to an agency analysis. It also points to bus and train maintenance, with options ranging from teaming with a private company, to taking on some maintenance work, to pursuing what the report calls “full-lease models,” where the T operates, but does not maintain, a fleet of vehicles. The T employs more than 1,700 full- and part-time bus drivers and 390 machinists, or mechanics. …

As Baker assesses MBTA’s future, role of privatization considered
Source: Jule Pattison-Gordon, Bay State Banner, July 28, 2016

As officials struggle to turn the MBTA around, one bone of contention is the role that privatization should play. The administration of Governor Charlie Baker has been taking advantage of the MBTA’s exemption from the Pacheco law to explore greater levels of outsourcing. The Pacheco law aimed to prevent officials from privatizing public services without first making a case that the private company would provide higher or equal quality service for less expense than could be achieved in-house, and that the cost savings would not be reliant on cutting employee wages and benefits. Opponents labeled it as “anti-privatization.” Last week, Baker held a meeting with reporters in which he reflected on the past year at the MBTA and on the next steps going forward. While privatization of several departments is under consideration, Baker said, generally speaking, he has no preference between public and private providers, only on whichever will provide the best service quality and lower costs. …

Wait, did somebody cut sunroofs into the MBTA’s armored cars?
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston Globe, July 25, 2016

The labor union representing the T’s “money room” workers is accusing Gov. Charlie Baker of misrepresenting facts as the two sides continue to bicker over whether to contract out the MBTA’s cash-counting operations. Last week, while speaking to reporters about the last year at the T, Baker said sunroofs had been cut into two armored cars used to move money around. He didn’t offer much more in the way of detail, but suggested the issue was consistent with other problems MBTA management says it has found with security in the money room. … But the Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents the money room employees and thousands of others, pushed back hard against Baker’s claim about the armored cars, calling it “pure fiction.” … Privatization at the T has been a central issue for MBTA labor throughout Baker’s time in office. It has grown more tense as the agency moves closer to actually spinning divisions toward the private sector. In the spring and summer of 2015, as he sought reforms at the MBTA following the system’s struggles in last winter’s snow, the Republican governor successfully convinced the legislature to give the T more unilateral power to privatize services, scoring a three-year reprieve from a law requiring a multi-step audit before the state could contract out a service provided by public employees. T officials have been pushing to privatize the agency’s cash-counting division since before the recent audit was released. …

Private guard in MBTA money room caught napping on the job
Source: WCVB, July 13, 2016

Private guards are on the job, tasked with making sure millions of dollars of the MBTA’s money is safe, but 5 Investigates discovered a major lapse in the T’s money room security. Security at the T’s money room was handled by Transit Police in the past, but was privatized in June. On Wednesday, 5 Investigates obtained a photograph that showed one of the new security guards sound asleep when he was supposed to be guarding the money room’s front door in Charlestown. In the photo, obtained exclusively by 5 Investigates, the guard can be seen leaning back and taking a snooze while on the job. The photo was taken in the middle of the workday and showed the guard sound asleep with his hands tucked in his bulletproof vest. He’s part of the MBTA’s new plan to keep safe the building where they collect and count about $200 million a year. … In a statement, G4S told 5 Investigates “Inattentiveness to duty is not tolerated.” The company said it will “work to ensure that any necessary changes are fully implemented to help prevent a reoccurrence.” The MBTA said it moved swiftly to secure the facility and stands by its decision to outsource the money room.

MBTA takes first major step toward privatization
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, June 30, 2016

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s warehouse operations could be run by a private company by October, as T officials take a major step toward outsourcing a part of the agency. MBTA officials on Thursday released a request for proposals from outside firms for the operations of its warehouse, which T executives have blasted for being inefficient and dysfunctional. The move is already prompting fierce opposition — and a request for arbitration — from the agency’s largest labor union, whose members could lose jobs. James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, pledged to appeal the move, under a federal process that — if successful — the union argues could eventually cost the T significant federal funding. … At the T, warehouse operations would be the first department to replace public workers with private ones since the Legislature lifted restrictions on outsourcing at the agency. …

MBTA union willing to cut new workers’ pay if management limits privatization
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston Globe, June 27, 2016

The largest labor union representing MBTA workers wants to make a deal. The 4,100-employee Boston Carmen’s Union says it’s willing to cut wages for new employees if it means the T will limit privatizing jobs done by members. Union officials presented the proposed deal at a Monday meeting of the T’s governing board, saying it would save $24 million for the agency over four years. The proposal would extend the Carmen’s current contract with the T two years, to 2020. Under the proposal, new full-time employees would see an 11 percent wage reduction over their first four years, and new part-time employees to see an eight percent reduction over their first six years. Additionally, wages would grow by 1.5 percent per year in 2019 and 2020, a lower rate than the usual 2.5 percent annual increase. In exchange, the union is asking the agency not to contract out services done by its members. It would allow one exception: the agency’s central warehouse, which employs 34 Carmen’s Union members and which the T has discussed recently as a potential service to privatize. …

Legislators blast plan to privatize T warehouse jobs
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, June 13, 2016

Legislators and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority workers blasted potential plans to outsource jobs in the MBTA’s warehouse operations, as officials on Monday made their case for privatizing the department. Saying the warehouse operations system is “completely broken,” T officials are pushing to outsource about 38 jobs in a department that costs approximately $4.2 million annually. … Also Monday, MBTA officials revealed that they had quietly replaced Transit Police officers with private security agents at the “money room” where employees count cash fares — a move that sparked criticism from police union officials who said they had little notice and noted that the T had hired the security agency that employed the gunman in this weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando. … [Michael Keller] blamed the T’s system, noting that it runs the central warehouse only 40 hours a week, despite 24-hour maintenance. He also said the system encourages mechanics to take parts even when a stockperson isn’t there to track the inventory — which contributes to the system’s inaccuracies. …

Could outsourcing fix this T problem?
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, June 12, 2016

T officials Monday plan to make the case for privatizing the sprawling warehouse department, which employs about 38 employees for approximately $4.2 million annually. Officials say it could lead to major improvements to the T’s maintenance operations and will represent one of the first efforts by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration to test the suspension of the so-called Pacheco law, which puts up hurdles for outsourcing state jobs. … The majority of the T’s inventory — about $38 million — is at two central warehouse locations in Everett and Charlestown. Maintenance workers usually call upon the warehouses when their own supplies — for things as simple as cables, brake rotors, and air filters — at their garages run out. T officials say that process, which can take up to 80 hours, should take about 12 by industry standards. That’s partly because the main warehouse is only open for eight hours a day, five days a week, compared with the maintenance department, which is working around the clock. … Officials say fixing the system internally could prove to be too expensive, especially as the agency looks for ways to balance its books. Polcari said the T would need to upgrade its warehouses and equipment, which could cost about $14.5 million. Officials hope the agency’s fiscal control board will sign off on a timeline that would allow the T to put out a request for proposals later this month, then select a bidder by the middle of August. …

The next big MBTA battle will be about privatization
Source: Adam Vaccaro,, June 7, 2016

In nearly a year since new management took control of the MBTA, the agency has taken several steps to achieve Gov. Charlie Baker’s directive that it get its financial house in order. … But it has yet to act on what proved to be Baker’s most contentious plan for the agency a year ago: To outsource parts of the agency to private companies. … In a conference call last week, MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve told reporters that privatization — or “flexible contracting,” as the T calls it — will be a focus of the agency in the coming weeks. He said the agency is examining “several initiatives we’re going to move quickly on to leverage flexible contracting” as part of a strategy to cut down on a budget deficit projected for $80 million next year, even after accounting for fare hikes and the end of late-night weekend service. …

MBTA Workers Speak Out Against Plans To Privatize Services
Source: ZENINJOR ENWEMEKA, WBUR, February 10, 2016

MBTA workers and union leaders spoke out Wednesday against a plan by T officials to privatize some services — which could affect about 250 jobs. … The Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 said the plan will push hardworking people out of jobs. … The Boston Carmen’s Union said 165 cash handling and fare collection jobs would be jeopardized. This includes technicians who repair fare collection equipment and workers in the MBTA’s Charlestown office known as the “money room.” Workers in that facility count MBTA fares, Mass Pike tolls and parking meter deposits from the city of Cambridge. The union represents 77 of these jobs that would be eliminated and given to private companies under the plan.

MBTA to consider privatizing services involving 250 jobs
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Herald, February 10, 2016

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials on Wednesday will take up a plan backed by Governor Charlie Baker to privatize departments that maintain fare machines, count cash fares, and run marketing and retail operations, a step that could eliminate about 250 jobs in all, according to MBTA officials. … MBTA and administration officials say they believe outsourcing the services could help the T vastly improve its fare-collection system and save millions of dollars that could be invested in the system. No specific figures on savings have been made public. … It would be among the first attempts by Baker’s administration to outsource services since the Legislature agreed to temporarily suspend a state law — specifically for the MBTA — that put up hurdles to privatizing public-sector jobs. The MBTA has considered privatizing some bus routes, but promised no layoffs would accompany that move. … About 165 jobs dedicated to fare collection and cash handling could be targeted in the privatization effort, MBTA officials said. In addition, they will look to privatize marketing services and retail operations; management of warehouses and materials; management of employee leave; management of telecommunication; contracts; and employees who handle the dispatch system for Transit Police. They will also look for savings in cleaning and elevator maintenance crews, which are already outsourced to private companies.

Unions rally against plan to privatize T services
Source: Antonio Caban, Lowell Sun, September 23, 2015

Concerned that the Baker administration’s effort to privatize some MBTA services could cost workers their jobs, union members gathered in protest on Wednesday, vowing to continue to call attention to the issue. Wearing matching orange shirts, nearly 80 members of Boston Carmen’s Union 589 turned out for the protest near their Devonshire Street headquarters. Aimee Daluz, an MBTA customer service worker, was among those passing out flyers. … Baker, who is in the midst of plans to revamp operations at the T after disastrous service last winter, said he will not move forward with plans to privatize certain MBTA bus routes if it doesn’t generate savings and efficiencies.

Union leaders urge MBTA officials to reconsider bus privatization plan
Source: Adam Vaccaro,, September 14, 2015

Union heads called on MBTA officials Monday morning to pump the brakes on a plan that would allow some low-ridership bus routes to be operated by private companies. Russell Gittlen, the regional director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and James O’Brien, who heads the local Carmen’s Union, each addressed the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board about the plan, which union members have criticized vociferously since it came to light last month. … MBTA officials have tried to assuage that fear, saying affected drivers and buses would be moved to help deal with busier bus routes. But Glitten and O’Brien said they think the agency should take a different approach—rather than bringing in outside help to handle slow routes, they say, the T should take it a step further and consider reconfiguring its bus routes. …

MBTA union, taxi drivers hold protests
Source: Chris Villani, Boston Herald, September 8, 2015

A demonstration by hundreds of members of the Carmen’s Union yesterday — protesting a move toward MBTA privatization on some bus lines that was backed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker as well as the Democratic Legislature — drew some high-profile support at the annual Greater Boston Labor Day Breakfast. … The Carmen’s Union was not alone in Lincoln Square. About 15-20 members of the Boston Taxi Drivers Association marched, holding signs saying ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are putting them out of business. Donna Blythe-Shaw, who represents the Boston taxi drivers, said she would like to see the same regulations applied to ride-sharing cars and taxis. Specifically, she said the union wants to make sure ride-sharing services can’t undercut meter fares, make sure that every car has a livery plate and that drivers are vetted the same way taxi cab drivers are vetted.

No layoffs in privatizing of bus lines, T officials say
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, August 20, 2015

The MBTA’s top two officials said Thursday that no bus drivers would lose their jobs if the T privatizes certain bus routes, a day after the president of the agency’s largest union said outsourcing routes to private companies amounts to a “betrayal” by Governor Charlie Baker. … But Frank DePaola, the MBTA’s interim general manager, said on Thursday that bus drivers whose routes are affected by the plan would keep their jobs and be reassigned to other bus routes. O’Brien said that he still had concerns despite DePaola’s promise, delivered by phone, that the privatization plan would not result in job losses. … The 32 bus routes being discussed include late-night service lines, express routes, and some lines with lower ridership, according to the T. The routes would only represent about 2.5 percent of weekly ridership.

MBTA Looking To Privatize Bus Routes
Source: Andy Metzger, WBUR, August 21, 2015

All 93 buses and their 65 drivers that would be taken off of those 40 routes if service is privatized would be re-deployed to other areas of the system that need more service, MBTA Interim General Manager Frank DePaola told reporters Thursday. … If the privatization plan moves forward, MBTA officials said that while it would improve the efficiency of bus services, it would also likely increase the total costs to the MBTA because private carriers will likely require some public subsidy. It would also increase the amount of transit service and the number of jobs in the transit sector, as private operators supplement T service. Those facts did not sway O’Brien. … The MBTA has not yet determined what routes would be supplemented with the 93 buses and 65 operators that would be shifted away from routes covered by a private carrier.

The T wants to privatize some bus routes
Source: Adam Vaccaro,, August 20, 2015

One of the major reforms to the MBTA this summer was a three-year reprieve from a law that puts a high barrier toward contracting out services to the private sector. Six weeks after peeling away the anti-privatization law, The Boston Globe reports, the T is preparing to ask private organizations about operating about 30 bus routes. … The MBTA told in July that it had begun speaking “informally with a number of stakeholders and potential partners” about offering privatized late-night bus service, which has struggled financially. Bridj, a Boston startup that offers shuttle service from neighborhood to neighborhood through a smartphone app, is among the services to have participated in informal discussions with the T, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said at the time.

Gov. Baker ready to test outsourcing T work
Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, July 8, 2015

Gov. Charlie Baker said a budget measure to suspend the so-called Pacheco Law at the MBTA and open the beleaguered agency to more outsourced contracts isn’t an attempt at “privatizing the T” — but he wants to prove it works. … They included language lifting for three years the provisions of the Pacheco Law, which puts up high hurdles to bringing in private work, and creating a fiscal control board to oversee the transit agency, something Baker called the “most important” part of reforms. A separate MBTA reform bill remains in the House, but the suspension of the Pacheco Law — despite waves of protest from unions and some in the Senate — proved a victory for Baker….

America’s Richest Politician Is Putting Thousands of Jobs at Risk

Source: Donald Cohen, The Huffington Post, October 14, 2016

Donald Trump isn’t the only one who won’t release his tax returns. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, whose family owns the Pilot Flying J chain of truck stops, has refused to release his since running and being elected in 2010. It wouldn’t matter so much if Haslam were your run-of-the-mill governor. But he’s the country’s richest politician, with a net worth of $2 billion. … It matters because Haslam has a plan that could plunge thousands of state workers into poverty. Since being elected, he’s slowly handed over management and operation of public buildings to a private company. All state-owned real estate is on the chopping block—from college campuses and prisons to state parks. The company, the Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, is the world’s second largest commercial real estate brokerage. While running for office in 2010, Haslam held a financial stake in the company. He might still be invested but we don’t know for sure—he’s since placed many of his investments in a blind trust. The governor clearly hasn’t read our new report, How privatization increases inequality. …


Campus Workers Unmask Scheme To Privatize All Tennessee Property
Source: Melanie Barron and Jeffery Lichtenstein, Labor Notes, October 4, 2016

Every state has a procurement office. Have you checked what yours is up to? In Tennessee it was through this office, charged with overseeing the state’s purchases and contracts, that Governor Bill Haslam concocted the biggest privatization scheme you’ve never heard of. And he would have gotten away with it, too—if it weren’t for a tough campus-workers union that discovered his plans and launched a raucous fight. … In 2014 he began taking quiet steps to outsource more than 10,000 state workers. Several well-paid consultants joined his administration, including one who gets paid more per hour than any other state employee. They began work in the little-known, slickly titled Office of Customer Focused Government. The plan they cooked up was unprecedented. Management and maintenance of literally every piece of state property would be privatized—campuses, parks, even armories—costing the jobs of 1 in 5 state workers. Billions in revenue would be funneled to a single private company. It’s rumored that one of the top contenders is Jones Lang LaSalle, already a state contractor and a company where Haslam has a record of personal investment. … As soon as UCW heard about the privatization scheme in August 2015, it leaked the plan to the press and launched a campaign called “Tennessee Is Not for Sale.” A town-hall phone call for members attracted hundreds of participants. Days later, 200 workers, students, and community allies lined the main avenue that cuts across the flagship campus in Knoxville. The union brought some signs and banners, but the best ones came from facilities workers, who showed up to the Thursday-afternoon rally in uniform. Of all the workers on a campus, we’ve found facilities workers to be some of the toughest to organize. They cover a variety of shops—carpentry, air conditioning, electrical, painting, custodial, housekeeping, and clerical and administrative support staff. They tend to be a tight-knit group, and sometimes insular. But this crisis inspired record numbers of facilities workers to mobilize, and many to join the union. … Now that it’s too late to ram through outsourcing in secret, Haslam is trying to persuade the public that outsourcing isn’t so bad. The administration’s message in the press is that the private contractor will rehire “qualified and productive employees” of the state. Supposedly their new benefits packages will look the same, or even slightly better. The governor is insinuating that the savings will come from cutting those who are unqualified and unproductive—a familiar line of attack against public employees. But so far, workers and the public aren’t buying it, in part because Haslam’s credibility has already been so damaged by the campaign. Our message, “Tennessee Is Not for Sale,” is clear and direct. People get it. …

Workers at MTSU protest privatization
Source: Sam Stockard, Murfressboro Press, August 30, 2016

Calling for Gov. Bill Haslam to stop trying to treat Tennessee like a business, United Campus Workers from MTSU rallied outside a Pilot store on the governor’s birthday in opposition to a looming plan to outsource state jobs. About 10 workers stood along the crowded road shouting “Tennessee jobs are not for sale!” and “Stop treating Tennessee like a business!” … State officials assured legislators earlier this year “qualified and productive” employees wouldn’t lose jobs or suffer pay and benefit cuts as a result of privatization. In addition, campuses and other state departments will be given the option to participate in a state contract after the matter is complete. Six universities, including MTSU, would save $10.9 million year two of a contract if they all opted to use it, according to a state justification study. The Officer of Customer Focused Government told lawmakers savings would come through better training, in-house work and large scale buying power. MTSU President Sidney McPhee has said he doesn’t favor outsourcing, according to Principe, though he hasn’t made such an official statement. … As part of the state’s FOCUS Act, higher education is being realigned, and MTSU and five other state universities operated by the Tennessee Board of Regents will be governed by newly-appointed boards in a year and a half. McPhee appointed faculty and staff to work on transition from this past July through November 2017. A 10-member board, including a student and faculty member appointed by the Faculty Senate, will oversee the university and hold the authority to hire and fire the president, adopt budgets, set mission statements and recommend tuition rates. The governor will appoint eight of the voting members, three of whom must be alumni, with confirmation by the General Assembly. …

Haslam outsourcing process draws criticism
Source: Cari Wade Gervin, Nashville Post, August 22, 2016

As Gov. Bill Haslam faces questions about whether his appointees to one state board financially helped his family company, Pilot Flying J, he’s also getting hit with new criticism over his statewide outsourcing plan. On Monday, the state is launching an independent accounting review as to whether the proposed outsourcing will have cost savings as claimed. However, the state is also starting a process that allows potential bidders to handle the outsourcing to help craft the proposal for such bids, as the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports … Democrats in the Legislature are already vocally decrying the plans, as recent investigative reporting has shown other outsourcing pushed by the Haslam administration, such as the motor pool, has actually cost the state significantly more money. …

Critics want cost-savings review before Tennessee outsources contracts
Source: Andy Sher, Times Free Press, August 21, 2016

Critics of Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts to privatize most state building management services say the administration should complete a promised independent accounting review of claimed cost savings before engaging with potential bidders in an experimental process for developing government contracts. Instead, beginning Monday, the Republican administration is doing both at the same time. Democratic lawmakers and a higher education union official say that’s putting the proverbial cart before the horse. … The administration’s Office of Customer Focused Government claims the state can save $36 million a year by outsourcing 90 percent of building management in general state government and higher education. The state’s real estate portfolio comprises more than 7,500 structures totaling 94 million square feet. Cleaning, repairing and operating them costs an estimated $550 million a year. Locally, the shift could affect the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Chattanooga State and Cleveland State community colleges and Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. While critics question why the KraftCPAs review and negotiations are occurring simultaneously, Michelle Martin, spokeswoman for the Office of Customer Focused Government, said officials are simply “gathering information through a multi-step, procurement process.” …

Tennessee Democrats And A Union Say They Want Proof Outsourcing Works Before There’s More Of It
Source: Chas Sisk, Nashville Public Radio, August 15, 2016

Tennessee Democrats and a union that represents campus workers are calling on Gov. Bill Haslam to release a study into outsourcing. They say the Haslam administration needs to show privatizing government services has worked before going ahead with more plans. The Haslam administration agreed in March to do the review. It came after lawmakers demanded more evidence that outsourcing works. … The Democrats’ list of failures include outsourcing maintenance of state vehicles, a deal with a Chicago real estate firm to manage state office buildings and the botched rollout of online standardized tests. They want a public hearing before more contracts are put out to bid. The Haslam administration insists outsourcing is saving taxpayers millions.

Public comments blast Haslam’s public college outsourcing proposal
Source: Adam Tamburin, The Tennessean, August 15, 2016

A union representing thousands of college workers in Tennessee on Monday released hundreds of comments slamming the governor’s proposal to outsource facilities management on public college campuses. The comments, which were collected by the state during a public comment period and sent to reporters by United Campus Workers, reiterated concerns that have been voiced by the union, lawmakers and college leaders for months. Of about 400 comments, almost all of them were critical of Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed plan, with many commenters suggesting the plan would lead to lost jobs or slashed pay for current employees and a lower quality service on campuses. … During a phone conference Monday organized by United College Workers, state Sen. Lee Harris and Rep. John Ray Clemmons ripped Haslam’s plan and called for more rigorous legislative oversight of similar state contracts. Clemmons, D-Nashville, repeatedly referred to the outsourcing plan as a “scheme” that was plotted out behind closed doors to benefit Haslam’s “friends” and political allies. … In February, on the heels of that push-back, the state agreed to hire a third party to evaluate potential savings that could be made through outsourcing. Martin said that review is being done by Nashville-based Kraft CPA, adding that a final report should be made public in November. …

Is Outsourcing Really Saving Taxpayer Money?
Source: Phil Williams, News Channel 5, July 27, 2016

An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered new questions about a major Haslam administration plan that was supposed to save taxpayers’ money. But our investigation discovered that effort — to turn the state’s vehicle operations over to private companies — is costing millions of dollars more than lawmakers were told. … While state employees once handled most maintenance of state vehicles, the Haslam administration outsourced the work to a private company. A fleet of state vehicles were once kept on standby for state workers, but that job was outsourced to Enterprise’s WeCar program. The administration also sold off hundreds of state-owned trucks and cars, choosing instead to lease them — all supposedly to save money. But a careful analysis of state budget documents suggests the state’s motor vehicle management operations have consistently blown through the budget numbers given to state lawmakers, now costing taxpayers more than ever. In 2011-2012, the Haslam administration proposed a motor vehicle budget of $32.5 million dollars, but they overspent by more than $10 million. The next year, they were $11 million over budget. And in 2014, they overspent by $12 million. …

Tennessee outsourcing proposal inches forward
Source: Adam Tamburin, The Tennessean, July 1, 2016

The state is inching forward in its long-running review of a proposal to outsource facilities management on college campuses and other government-owned properties. Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has expressed interest in the idea for some time. In April, the Haslam administration released a request for qualifications, or RFQ, to gauge interest from businesses that might participate in the proposed plan to outsource facilities management at a number of its properties — including colleges, prisons and state parks. The deadline passed Thursday, and the state will begin fielding presentations from the interested businesses later this month. … The state uses Chicago-based JLL to manage roughly 10 percent of its facilities. An internal report released in March suggested privatizing the management of residence halls, student centers and other properties across the state could save $36 million annually. Critics have said outsourcing would translate to subpar services, particularly for colleges, and slashed pay and benefits for employees. Haslam has said the savings are possible without layoffs or cuts to pay or benefits. …
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Trenton schools shot down for trying to privatize aides at another district

Source: David Foster, The Trentonian, October 4, 2016

It’s bad enough the capital city school district privatized its own aides, resulting in hundreds of layoffs the past two years and disorganization within the special education department. But when the district tried to send contracted aides to another district, the state Department of Education put its foot down. According to a Sept. 20 DOE commissioner decision, Trenton lost an appeal to provide contracted aides to the Mercer County Special Services School District (MCSSSD) for special education students the capital city district places at MCSSSD. Trenton sought to implement the plan for the 2015-16 school year to reduce operating costs, but MCSSSD, which specializes in education for children with special needs, refused to allow it, leading to the state decision. … MCSSSD’s aides are district employees unlike Trenton, which outsources its aides. Whitfield has filed numerous special education complaints against Trenton within the past year. The advocate said the district cannot fill the number of paraprofessionals required for students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP) this year and is currently out of compliance. … This year’s budget was criticized for being discriminatory toward children with special needs with many cuts targeting paraprofessionals and specialists. For the second year in a row, Trenton public schools slashed hundreds of jobs, privatized paraprofessionals and closed a school. Most recently, the Trenton chapter of the NAACP called out civil rights violations for the district’s students with special needs. …


Union fears privatization in Trenton schools unlikely to stop
Source: Matt Fair, The Times of Trenton, November 28, 2011

First they came for the district’s cafeteria workers, then for its security staff and bus drivers. Slowly, over the last three years, Trenton Public Schools has moved toward privatizing parts of its staff to cope with rising employee costs and reductions in state aid….The district came close to outsourcing its custodial staff over the summer, and a private company was brought in several months ago to assume some of the responsibilities of in-house paraprofessionals who assist teachers who work with special education students and pupils with medical conditions….Mission One Educational Staffing Services was awarded a contract in September to provide paraprofessionals….Meanwhile, Mission One’s sister company, Source 4 Teachers, last month was awarded a contract to provide substitute teachers for the district.

Oregon contractor receives lifetime ban for underpaying workers

Source: Whitney M. Woodworth, Statesman Journal, September 29, 2016

A Hillsboro-based contractor was ordered to pay $144,000 to 46 underpaid workers and received a lifetime ban from working on public works contracts in Oregon, state officials said. The Bureau of Labor and Industries previously collected nearly $200,000 from Cornerstone Janitorial Services and directed the money to underpaid employees who worked on a series of 16 taxpayer-funded education and health care projects in Salem, Eugene, Stayton, Keizer, Monmouth, Junction City, Corvallis, Wilsonville, Portland, Vernonia and Philomath. … A complaint in a separate civil rights investigation said a Cornerstone employee was fired for participating in BOLI’s wage investigation. The employee, according to the complaint, was offered a bribe by Cornerstone owner Nam Sang not to speak with investigators. Cornerstone underpaid employees while they worked on several projects including the Oregon State Hospital in Salem and Junction City, athletic facilities at the University of Oregon, Stayton High School and three Salem-Keizer School District elementary schools. The investigation began after the agency’s Prevailing Wage Rate Unit received a tip from an employee at Hoffman Construction. …

Chesterfield custodial outsourcing saved $7.1 million

Source: Sean CW Korsgaard, Progress Index, September 26, 2016

When Chesterfield County school officials first made the decision to outsource custodial services, there was a great amount of concern and protest that the schools wouldn’t be cleaned. Less than two years later, it’s now clear not only are the schools still getting cleaned, but in terms of money saved, Chesterfield cleaned house. At a school board meeting earlier this month, school officials said that privatizing custodial services for the majority of the county’s 62 schools has resulted in $7.1 million in savings, which will now be sent toward classroom instruction. … The choice to outsource janitorial services to contractors at what was initially just eight schools in the 2014-15 school year was made with the goal of saving $1.5 million. The move drew nearly 200 complaints from teachers and school staff who wanted to keep those jobs “in house” — most notably from the Chesterfield Education Association, which represents more than a thousand teachers throughout the county. In spite of this, the program was expanded from those eight schools to 41 schools last year, with another 21 schools added this year. SSC Service Solutions, based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, which has had an agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University since 1994, has handled custodial services for the past year. About 500 custodians employed by SSC currently work in the school system, many of them former county employees. …


Superintendent: Custodial outsourcing is here to stay
Source: Jim McConnell, Chesterfield Observer, September 21, 2016

Regardless of problems that occurred during its implementation, the county’s school system won’t abandon the outsourcing of custodial services to a private contractor. Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent James Lane noted during last week’s School Board meeting that the school system simply cannot afford to reverse course on outsourcing custodial work at county schools. … Chris Sorensen, assistant superintendent for finance, presented the School Board last week with a document that shows by the end of fiscal year 2017, the school system expects to save nearly $7.1 million over the first three years of custodial outsourcing. That’s $400,000 less than originally projected – a result, Sorensen said, of the board’s decision last year to retain nine custodians on the school system’s payroll who each had between 25 and 29 years of service. … More than 400 other custodians have lost their jobs over the past three years as the School Board sought to free up additional resources that could be used in the county’s classrooms. … The School Board implemented the final phase of its outsourcing program July 1, when Tennessee-based SSC Service Solutions assumed responsibility for custodial services at all 65 county schools and seven other buildings. … The School Board has come under fire both for its decision to outsource custodians, who were among its lowest-paid employees in the county school system, and for the performance of its selected contractors. Smith and Vice Chairwoman Carrie Coyner are the only current School Board members who were on the board when the school system hired GCA Services Group to manage custodial services at eight schools during the 2014-15 school year. By May 2015, the school system had logged nearly 200 complaints about the company’s performance. Most of the complaints noted a general lack of cleanliness at the outsourced schools, but there were also concerns about custodians failing to report for work on time and refusing to perform assigned duties. Several concerned citizens asked the School Board to abandon the outsourcing program and rehire custodians that had been terminated. Instead, the school system solicited a new round of proposals and chose SSC Service Solutions to take over the custodial contract. …

In Chesterfield, custodial outsourcing saved school system $7.1 million
Source: Markus Schmidt, Richmond Times-Dispatch, September 18, 2016

Chesterfield County school officials say their decision to outsource custodial services for most of the county’s 62 schools has produced $7.1 million in savings that’s being sent toward classroom instruction. The School Board’s decision to outsource the work two years ago sparked controversy over complaints of insubordination, poor management, and a general unwillingness to clean school facilities on the part of the private contractor that took over for school janitors. But because of the significant savings, reversing the decision would be impractical, Superintendent James F. Lane said after a presentation by the division’s finance department at last week’s School Board meeting. … Hoping to save $1.5 million in the 2014-15 school year by laying off school janitors and replacing them with a private contractor, the School Board hired Richmond-based GCA Service Group to begin the eight-school pilot program. But the division’s experiment generated nearly 200 complaints from teachers and principals that year alone. In one case, a woman who did not work for the company returned a full set of school keys to Lloyd C. Bird High School because she said the custodian who worked for GCA had been “thrown in jail,” according to a complaint. GCA was paid $1.64 million for the first 12 months that it handled the division’s custodial services. … For the second year, the division changed vendors and awarded the contract to Knoxville, Tenn.-based SSC Service Solutions, which has had an agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University since 1994. The new contract expanded the program from eight to 41 schools; the remaining 21 schools are included this year. The school system has not yet assessed the number of complaints about SSC to compare it with the number of complaints about GCA. … School officials initially projected that the division would save $7.5 million over three years. But keeping the nine workers employed by the school system will cost about $400,000 between now and 2021. The school system decided to account for the $400,000 cost now. …

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. …

School board-custodian case moves close to Supreme Court

Source: Tina Forbes, The Telegraph, September 22, 2016 (Abstract)

The Nashua School District is one step closer to having its case considered by the New Hampshire Supreme Court after the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board denied the district’s request for a rehearing on its plan to privatize some of its custodial workforce. The labor board handed down its decision on Tuesday, more than a month after the school board voted to appeal the labor board’s initial decision in favor of the district’s custodians.


Hassan Hopes for ‘Fair Resolution’ As Nashua Custodians Fight For Jobs
Source: Jason Claffey, Nashua Patch, August 10, 2016

Gov. Maggie Hassan is hoping for a “fair resolution” for union custodians at Nashua schools as they fight to keep their jobs. In the fall, the Nashua Board of Education voted 7-1 to end its contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 100 custodians in Nashua. … Gov. Maggie Hassan on Tuesday released a statement on the dispute: “Nashua custodians help ensure (a) safe, clean learning environment. Hope all work in good faith to reach fair resolution.”

NH Labor Relations Board Sides with Nashua Custodians
Source: Tony Schinella, Nashua Patch, August 5, 2016

New Hampshire’s AFL-CIO is calling a decision by the state of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Board a “big win” for custodians in Nashua who were slated to be fired as the school district attempted to find ways to save money. The labor relations board issued a decision on Aug. 4, 2016, stating that the school district “improperly refused to bargain with the Union over the custodial personnel positions in violation of its bargaining obligations under” state law and now must “engage in bargaining with the full bargaining unit for a successor contract to the 2013-16 CBA without further delay.” That contact expired in June. … In a statement on its website, the NH AFL-CIO, the org that AFSCME Council 93, the Nashua custodians’ union is a member of, called the decision a victory for workers and organized labor in the state. …

Nashua custodians maintain jobs through summer as Labor Board processes claim
Source: Tina Forbes, Nashua Telegraph, June 1, 2016

With 30 days left on their contract, Nashua union custodial workers are likely to stay with the district through the summer as an unfair labor complaint against the district is still being processed by the Public Employee Labor Relations Board. Last fall, the Board of Education voted to explore hiring a private company to replace 101 union custodian positions, citing a need to achieve “substantial savings to the district’s operating budget.” …

Nashua mayor urges school board to reject privatization of custodians
Source: Kimberly Houghton, New Hampshire Union Leader, March 26, 2016

Mayor Jim Donchess expressed disapproval with the school board this week for considering outsourcing its cleaning service, a move that would leave 101 custodians without a job. … The school district issued a request-for-proposals for outside custodial work, and received four bids from companies interested in the job. For the first year of work, SJ Services quoted $2,696,454, Temco is offering $3,368,592, GCA is charging $2,931,058 and ABM is requesting $5,572,081. All four bids are lower than what the school district is currently paying its 101 custodians — about $6,178,000 for salaries, benefits, overtime, longevity, supplies and equipment. All four bids offered five years of quotes, which ranged in savings from $606,000 to $3,481,627 compared to existing custodial staff costs. …

Board gets estimate on privatizing at meeting
Source: Tina Forbes, The Nashua Telegraph, March 2, 2016

Even the most expensive outside contractor would save the school district more than $500,000 over the current custodial staff, according to an analysis of Nashua School District costs. All four of the companies that submitted bids to take over the school district’s custodial services proposed prices less than what the district pays its roughly 100 custodians in salaries and benefits – about $5.7 million. The district pays another $498,720 on overtime, supplies, equipment and longevity payments, according to data presented Monday by District Business Manager Dan Donovan. …
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Council moves ahead with janitor outsourcing, nixes rezoning for Bosqueville project

Source: J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune, September 20, 2016

Waco City Council on Tuesday agreed to seek proposals to privatize the city’s janitorial services but told nervous custodians the decision to outsource has yet to be made. The council voted 5-0 to authorize City Manager Dale Fisseler to seek the proposals from companies using the “competitive sealed proposal” process, which considers qualifications and service details as well as price. The outsourcing discussion drew at least a dozen interested members of the public, including some janitors who spoke of their fears of losing jobs and benefits. … Fisseler has suggested janitorial privatization as a way to save $294,000 a year, more than 30 percent of this year’s cleaning budget. But he said he won’t make an official recommendation on outsourcing until the proposals come back. Councilman Dillon Meek said he won’t be comfortable supporting privatization until he can get some key questions answered. He wants to know more about the private companies’ benefits and their use of part-time workers, the job opportunities for existing janitors and the effects on service quality, Meek said. He also wants to discuss the possibility of phasing in the private contractor based on attrition with the existing staff. … Privatization could affect 22 full-time janitors who get vacation time, health insurance and retirement, as well as three part-timers. Charles Reed, a former mayor of Waco, implored the council to reconsider the direction of privatizing janitorial jobs. “The only way this is going to save money is by cutting the pay and benefits of people who work for the city,” Reed said. “I ask each of you to search your conscience and ask, No. 1, is this necessary? And No. 2, is this the right thing to do?” …


Waco to privatize janitorial service in upcoming budget
Source: J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune, July 12, 2016

The city of Waco is considering replacing its janitorial staff with private contractors in an effort to save $294,000 a year. City staff and three council members discussed privatizing the service at a budget and audit committee meeting Tuesday, three days before City Manager Dale Fisseler releases his preliminary budget for 2016-17. If the council agrees, the city would bid out the janitorial services now performed by 22 full-time and three part-time employees, reducing janitorial costs from $950,000 to an estimated $656,000 a year. Current employees earn between $9.94 and $14.10 per hour, plus benefits for full-time workers. …

EKU weighs outsourcing custodians, ground workers

Source: Dan Klapheke, The Eastern Progress, September 15, 2016

In Kentucky’s current state of budget-strangling and uncertainty, Eastern Facilities Services in the hotseat with the possibility of outsourcing custodial and grounds maintenance staff. The news came August 29 after the office of Finance and Administration informed Facilities Services personnel that EKU would be requesting proposals from third party vendors for custodial and grounds services. The request for proposal (RFP) was sent out September 9. … According to the RFP, companies that bid on the project must include proposal for both custodial and grounds services together, as well as one for each service separately. It also stipulates that all current EKU custodial and grounds employees be offered a full 40-hour, 52-week position with the new company and no break in health insurance coverage, according to the RFP. … But workers are worried. Rumblings and rumors have circulated throughout the affected employees, and eight year custodian Carl Shanks said staff is frustrated and waiting anxiously. …


EKU will look at outsourcing custodial, grounds services
Source: Bill Robinson, Richmond Register, August 30, 2016

As Eastern Kentucky University looks for cost savings in the wake of continued state funding cuts, it has asked for proposals from vendors that could take over its custodial and grounds-keeping operations. As directed by the board of regents, facilities services personnel were told Monday that a request for proposals from potential vendors will be advertised as early as next week, according to a statement released Tuesday on behalf of Barry Poynter, EKU Vice President for Business/Finance. … If it chooses to outsource custodial and grounds keeping services, EKU’s goal will be to have current staff hired by a third-party vendor that will offer “comparable benefit packages,” the statement added. It acknowledged the RFP would likely raise “questions and concerns” among university employees, which it did. Some contacted The Register and said they feared the briefing was an early warning that custodian and grounds employees could eventually lose their jobs or find themselves working for a third-party employer that offers less desirable benefits. EKU employees receive tuition waivers as well as health insurance and retirement contributions from the university. … RFP responses are expected by Oct. 10. They will be evaluated and presented to the regents for review at their October meeting, according to the statement. …

Don’t outsource custodians, Mars Area school board told

Source: Sandy Trozzo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 2016

More than 75 parents and educators crowded into the small room where the Mars Area school board meets, spilling into the vestibule, to voice their displeasure with the board’s rejection of a fact-finding report in a labor dispute with support staff. Board members voted 8-1 a second time Tuesday to reject the report. The second vote was required by law because members of the Mars Area Education Support Staff had approved the report. Board member Steve Boggs was the lone dissenting vote both times. Those who spoke were unanimous in their view that the district should offer the support staff — paraprofessionals, secretaries and custodians — a fair contract and not outsource their jobs. The district is considering outsourcing custodial services to save $1 million per year. Outsourcing paraprofessionals and secretaries would save another $800,000 a year, but the board currently is looking to outsource only custodians, solicitor Tom Breth said. … Some staff and parents talked about problems with services that were previously outsourced. Parent Lori Allison said she quit being a substitute teacher in the district because the company hired to manage substitutes kept asking her to teach classes for which she was not certified. “They only wanted a body,” she said. Mr. Breth said the main sticking point in negotiations is the district’s insistence that all employees be treated the same for health care costs. Under the current contract, which expired June 30, 2015, the district pays only for individual health coverage for new employees rather than family coverage that existing employees receive. Employees can opt to pay for family coverage themselves if they want it. …

Jury finds against union, awards $5.3 million in damages to cleaning firm

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle, September 6, 2016

A Harris County jury on Tuesday awarded a Houston commercial cleaning firm $5.3 million in damages, finding that a labor union’s aggressive organizing campaign went too far when it maligned the reputation of the company. It opens the door for more employers to sue unions over hardball tactics often used in membership drives and contract disputes. The jury, by a 10-2 vote, found for Professional Janitorial Service in a suit the company brought nine years ago against the Service Employees International Union, which targeted the company as part of its “Justice for Janitors” organizing campaign and wrongly claimed Professional Janitorial Service had violated wage, overtime and other labor laws. The case was the first time that a jury has found against a union in a business defamation or disparagement case, according to a search of legal records by the company’s law firm, AZA of Houston. … The union said it would appeal the verdict. In a statement, the SEIU called the outcome an assault on free speech rights and said the trial was “riddled with procedural errors and blatant appeals to the prejudices of the jury.” The union said the company failed to prove the union’s statements were “false, defamatory, malicious” or that it suffered economic damages. … The case stretches back more than a decade, when SEIU launched its “Justice for Janitors” campaign in Houston, organizing workers at the city’s five biggest commercial cleaners and negotiating contracts with them. Professional Janitorial Service, the sixth largest, refused to recognize the union without first giving workers a chance to vote in a government-supervised election. SEIU went on the attack, accusing the company of forcing employees to work off the clock and firing them for union activities and using its connections with politicians and pension funds, which invest in commercial real estate, to steer cleaning contracts away from Professional Janitorial Service, according to court documents. …