Category Archives: Custodial

Haslam administration: Review confirms outsourcing savings

Source: Associated Press, November 22, 2016

An outside firm hired by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration agrees that privatizing maintenance work at public colleges and universities could save $35 million per year. Haslam’s outsourcing advisers and consultants have touted the outsourcing plan as a way to save money while protecting the jobs of all currently employed campus maintenance workers who are deemed to be “qualified and productive.” The outside review was conducted by KraftCPAs PLLC.

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Outsourcing state services doesn’t save taxpayers money
Source: Randy Stamps, Knoxville News-Sentinel, November 19, 2016

Saving taxpayer money is the main selling point behind every proposal to outsource a state service. But, when analyzed, outsourcing is often found to be more expensive than promised. For example, in January 2012 the state paid Jones Lang LaSalle $1 million to assess the condition and management of state properties. That November, the state expanded JLL’s contract to include procuring outside leases, a job previously handled by state employees. JLL would also receive a 4 percent commission on any leases it procured. By April 2013, funding for the contract had increased from $1 million to $7.6 million. In June 2013, Tennessee signed a $330 million, five-year contract with JLL to outsource the facilities management of all state buildings. In November of 2013, the state comptroller found JLL’s contract “created an organizational conflict of interest whereby Jones Lang LaSalle can profit from its own planning recommendations.” … In 2014, the state signed a $276 million contract with Trousdale County for a 2,400-bed private prison for Corrections Corporation of America. This contract also includes a 90 percent occupancy guarantee for CCA for per diem fees, which means if the private prison doesn’t remain above 90 percent occupied, taxpayers will pay per diem fees for empty beds. The contract also guarantees annual 2.5 percent operating per diem rate increases. In contrast, state employees do not receive guaranteed pay increases. … Tragically, in July, a man committed suicide by jumping off the Tennessee Tower in Downtown Nashville. According to a WSMV report, “Security at the tower falls under the state’s General Services division. They contract with private security companies Walden Security and Allied Barton.” In August, an accident at a Tennessee county fair sent three children plummeting 45 feet to the ground, severely injuring one. The Associated Press reported, “The state relies on private inspectors hired by operators and other states’ regulators to determine whether roller coasters, zip lines and Ferris wheels are safe.” State employees used to handle this work. In conclusion, as taxpayers, we must ask harder questions and demand more oversight on any contracts that outsource a state service. The notion of cost savings from outsourcing is simply no longer credible.

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. …
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Privatizing destroys the American Dream

Source: Paul Jampol, Wicked Newton, November 3, 2016

At this moment a battle is raging in Newton, pitting the School Committee against the school custodians. Essentially, the committee wants to privatize custodial work, washing its hands of the current custodians and their union. In this manner, custodial work, argues the committee, will be cheaper, leaving more money for improving education. This is a devilish argument, its premise a cruel fact: privatized workers earn much lower salaries and get few if any benefits and protections. Their companies are almost always non-unionized; the employees lie at the mercy of their managers’ whims. Typically, workers in such companies have a much higher rate of turnover and a much grimmer future. … Remember the disastrous results when many states decided to privatize their prisons. The idea: private corporations, being more efficient than public institutions, would run prisons at lower cost, saving the state money. The result: prison mismanagement, including the hiring of unqualified and untrained prison personnel, and mistreatment of prisoners. After a decade, most states have returned to managing prisons themselves. A parallel process is occurring in the privatization of American schools, led by the Charter School movement. Some charters, of course, are technically “public” in that they are nominally under the supervision of local school boards. Usually, though, the teachers are non-union and the administrators armed with nearly arbitrary power to hire and fire. Due process? Grievance? They are often thrown out the window in this brave new world of education. … In the meantime, Newton ought to keep its school community intact, without creating different tiers of workers: city employees who receive ethical treatment and proper remuneration, and privatized workers on a much lower salary scale. At the same time, both government and the private sector must consider more than the bottom line: do we want a country of haves and have-nots or a nation with a strong, secure middle class? Beware of cost-cutting measures that also place the American Dream beyond the reach of millions of Americans. …

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. …

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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. …

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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.

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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?” …

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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. …

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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. …