….This much is unarguable: If “privatizing,” as the term has been coined, costs more than the government function cost taxpayers in the first place, then it’s a bad idea no matter what function we’re talking about. That, apparently, is the case with the Georgia Department of Transportation — or rather, would have been the case if a DOT committee hadn’t done its homework. The department was considering a contract for janitorial and other services at highway welcome centers and rest areas. The DOT sent out a request for proposals, and received two bids, one for $37.7 million and the other for $36.5 million. Except that, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Transportation Board’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Committee determined that the DOT could employ people to do the same work for $27.8 million….
An East Boston janitorial company has been ordered by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to pay more than $750,000 for unlawfully deducting wages from workers’ paychecks at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority facilities in Boston. Between March 2012 and September 2013, Star Service Corp., a subcontractor of janitorial provider ABM, took more than $959,000 out of 160 workers’ checks for health, pension, and welfare fund benefits but never contributed to the funds, according to the attorney general’s investigation. Under state law, cleaning and maintenance workers at buildings owned or rented by the Commonwealth can receive wages that include pension and health fund deductions, but if no payments are made to those funds, the money must go to the worker. …
Responding to reports of filthy conditions inside Chicago Public Schools after privatizing janitorial management, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Aramark could “clean out the schools or they can clean out their desks and get out.”… Emanuel said Board President David Vitale has been in contact with the private management firm. Vitale and other board members had voted earlier this year to give Aramark a $260 million contract to manage the district’s custodians and cleaning supplies. …
Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not ‘as smooth as we would like’
Source: Becky Vevea, WBEZ, September 15, 2014
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted Monday that turning over management of school janitors to two private companies hasn’t been going very well. …. But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. …
Chicago Public Schools contractor to lay off 476 custodians
Source: Lauren Fitzpatrick And Matt McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2014
The move to lay off nearly 500 privately contracted custodial workers who clean Chicago Public Schools will make it harder to keep classrooms tidy, the union representing the custodians said Sunday…. The Sun-Times reported Saturday that 476 custodians who clean Chicago Public Schools will lose their jobs at the end of the month…. The cuts come after CPS officials agreed to a $260 million contract in March with the firm Aramark, which used subcontractors to employ the custodial workers, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Saturday. CPS principals have complained about school cleanliness since the district privatized the janitorial services, according to a survey by AAPPLE, a new activist group under the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association….
They seldom get the headlines of a Harvard University or a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but hundreds of companies in Massachusetts support higher education institutions across the state under contracts that total in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. The Boston Business Journal reviewed the money spent in the 2013 fiscal year on independent contractors by more than two dozen colleges and universities in Greater Boston – the most expensive contracts at each school — and found a total of more than $709 million. That doesn’t count several dozen additional nonprofit colleges or universities and hundreds if not thousands of smaller contracts at each institution. Four of the biggest contracts were at Harvard University. Three of those, totaling $164 million, went to construction companies and one, for $40 million, went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a research subcontract….
…With contracts totaling $16 million, Aramark, a food service provider, was one of the most prevalent vendors among local colleges and universities, with contracts at Simmons College, Wheaton College, Regis College, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Berklee College of Music and Stonehill College. Looking forward, construction companies and related functions, such as architects, will continue to score the biggest vendor contracts at colleges and universities, said Jim Murtha, chairman and CEO of Maguire Associates, a higher education consulting company in Concord. Construction is the type of big-ticket function that most higher education institutions cannot bring in-house, he said. Yet, new types of pricey contracts are starting to evolve – for one, outsourced facilities management services, Murtha said. Those contracts include everything from janitorial services to painting lines on a ball field. Smaller colleges, in particular, are finding it less expensive to outsource all of these functions to one vendor, rather than running part of it in-house – janitorial services, for example – and signing smaller contracts with different service providers to fill the gaps….
…At Western Michigan, tough economic times led to fresh thinking that included staffing modifications. “Some levels of outsourcing were implemented. Lower skilled jobs that had higher wages or specialty and expensive equipment tasks — such as snow plowing — were typical in-house job functions that were reviewed,” says Strazdas. “In a collective bargaining environment, both sides of the table came closer to find solutions to lower costs and improve service.”…
….Today, if an IFC [International Finance Corporation] employee leaves, and the outsourced management team can do those duties just as effectively, then the company doesn’t replace that person; instead, it adds those responsibilities to the outsourcing assignment. ….
This year, your company’s use of outsourcing: %
Decreased ————————————- 8
Increased ———————————— 19
Stayed about the same ———————— 73
Next year, your company’s use of outsourcing will probably: %
Decrease —————————————————- 9
Increase —————————————————- 16
Stay about the same —————————————— 75
Source: Daily Gazette, August 28, 2014
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand that government control your taxes and at the same time fight every sensible attempt to reduce government spending. Such is the case in Glenville, where the town has the opportunity to save taxpayers nearly $450,000 by hiring a private firm to clean town buildings and by not having a person in the police station lobby greeting people around the clock. The town has proposed replacing two retiring town employees with a private cleaning company, potentially saving town taxpayers nearly $100,000 a year in salaries and benefits. No one is getting fired or laid off. The positions are becoming vacant, and the town has found a cheaper way to replace them with a professional service. Yet the regional CSEA president and unionized town workers are objecting, even suggesting that the private company cleaners will steal employees’ stuff at night.
Union members picketed the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents in Oshkosh to oppose UW-Superior’s proposal to hire a private company to handle custodial and grounds-keeping services. The university issued a competitive request for proposals for a contract to perform those services starting in December. Current UW-Superior employees must be considered for jobs a company will create under the contract….
Protesters demonstrate at regents meeting
Source: Noell Dickmann, Northwestern Media, August 21, 2014
Union members picketed outside a UW System Board of Regents meeting Thursday in Oshkosh, speaking out against a proposal to privatize custodial and grounds-keeping services at UW Superior. Paulette Feld, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 24 and a IT network specialist at UW-Oshkosh, said members are opposed to outsourcing union jobs to private companies…. Earlier, regents unanimously approved a request asking Gov. Scott Walker for $95 million in additional tax dollars in the state’s next two-year budget agencies despite the governor telling agencies to not expect any additional tax dollars in his 2015-17 budget….
UWS Employees March Against Job Outsourcing
Source: WDIO.com, July 26, 2014
Over 100 people are marching in solidarity with UWS custodians and ground crew members on Saturday to protest the university’s consideration of a plan to outsource the jobs to private companies. … The university is considering cutting 28 jobs to help make up a $4.5 million deficit, however, 18-year UWS employee Glen Kahalar questions recent choices made by the administrators. …. . Many members of the Wisconsin State Employees Union joined the UWS workers on Saturday.
AFSCME labor union backs UWS custodial workers over threat of outsourcing
Source: NNCNow, July 27, 2014
UWS crews protest job outsourcing
Source: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram, June 10, 2014
….The university is evaluating options as it seeks to identify $4.5 million in cuts and revenue growth over the next five years, said Lynne Williams, UWS spokeswoman. About $2 million of that has to be found within two years. … The university has made no decision on the custodians and grounds crew yet, Williams said. Sending the proposal out for bid will take at least six weeks, and that process has not started yet. The proposals would be evaluated to determine if it would be feasible to outsource some or all of the work. There is no timeline on the decision, but the current contracts for custodial and grounds staff end this summer…..
Despite resistance from school district custodians, the Norwalk Board of Education voted in favor of a contract that would outsource custodial services at Columbus Magnet and Jefferson Science Magnet this coming school year. With a vote of 4-3, the school board authorized Norwalk Public Schools to enter into an agreement with custodial service provider, United Services of America. The move will fill seven custodian vacancies throughout the school district and is expected to save more than $182,000….
Local 1042 members say custodian outsourcing not good for school community
Source: Korey Wilson, Hour, August 5, 2014
In response to the school district’s plans to outsource custodian services at two schools, representatives of the custodians’ union are planning to attend Tuesday’s Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns. While Norwalk Public Schools is currently considering recent bids to outsource cleaning services, full-time custodians say the school district will lose a critical part of the school community in their attempt to save money. Members of Local 1042 of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees say they provide more duties to the school district than their job titles of custodians, security guards and maintenance workers would suggest. … The school district is looking to fill seven custodian vacancies throughout the district by outsourcing cleaning duties to an outside agency. The school district recently held a walkthrough for 15 companies interested in the contract. Nine of those companies submitted bids for the contract, according to school officials. Three union representatives came to observe the school tour on July 16 but were asked to leave. Beginning next school year, some custodians will be reshuffled to new schools and an outside agency will handle all custodial duties at Columbus Magnet and Jefferson Science Magnet schools. …
Warren County Freeholders stated in an email sent to union officials last week, that the county has “serious doubts” regarding the feasibility of cost-saving measures suggested to save Warren Haven. ” …. “When we had had earlier discussions, we said we were not going to negotiate this in the newspaper,” Freeholder Director Ed Smith said today in response to an article by The Express-Times, stating that he was caught off guard by the distribution of the email. Outlining when negotiations began with the union, Smith said that discussions have been limited. Following a conceptual plan from AFSCME Council 73 that would, according to their research, save the county $2.5 to $3 million by increasing revenues and lowering labor costs, the county’s labor counsel determined that the suggestions were implausible, Smith said….
Warren Haven nursing home sale appears imminent, freeholders say
Source: Edward Sieger, Express-Times, July 23, 2014
In a letter to union officials last week, Warren County gave its clearest signal yet that officials plan to sell the county-run nursing facility. “Warren County continues to maintain that it is in the best interests of both resident care and taxpayers to have a clean break with the Warren Haven Nursing Home,” according to a letter from county labor attorney J. Andrew Kinsey to union officials. The letter was obtained by The Express-Times. The comments came in response to a proposal from AFSCME Council 73 aimed at increasing revenues and lowering labor costs at Warren Haven in an effort to stave off a sale to a private owner. …. The union’s proposal sought to maintain jobs and salaries while ridding the county of pension and health care costs, according to Meara.
LETTER: Warren County’s elderly deserve support, ‘home’
Source: Letters to the Editor, Express Times, July 23, 2014
…Many families are physically unable to care for a wheelchair-bound adult who requires bathing, diapers, feeding, medications and some form of socialization. Some have no families to care for them. The elderly in Warren County pay or have paid taxes, including school taxes, but perhaps have not saved enough to privately pay out close to $100,000 a year for a private nursing home. They do not benefit from the school taxes they pay but as part of a community they support the need for the children in their community. Then why shouldn’t they receive the same support?…
Warren County freeholders, labor leaders talk potential concessions at Warren Haven
Source: Sarah Peters, Express-Times, July 8, 2014
Union leaders who hope to spare Warren Haven, the county-owned nursing home, from privatization floated a rough proposal to county officials early last week. The two sides came to the table July 1 for their first discussion on possible labor concessions, which the Warren Haven Advisory Committee suggested should be complete by March 31. Leaders from both sides were reluctant to discuss details in accordance with an agreement they made not to negotiate through the media. Gerard Meara, executive director of AFSCME Council 73, said the union presented a comprehensive proposal to Freeholder Director Ed Smith, County Administrator Steve Marvin and the county’s labor attorney. He said he hopes to know better what their intentions are when they sit down again at a to-be-scheduled meeting….
Warren County freeholders move toward sale of Warren Haven, despite public objections
Source: Sarah Peters, Express-Times, June 25, 2014
Warren County freeholders unanimously voted tonight to hire a company to market and sell Warren Haven over the objections of county residents and nursing home employees. Residents packed the meeting room to its 65-person capacity, and the crowd spilled over into the vestibule and out the doors of the county administration building tonight. During a lengthy public comment, most begged officials to keep the nursing home under full county control….
GUEST COLUMN: Warren County waging a war on the elderly
Source: CJ Van Gieson, Express-Times, June 18, 2014
In less than one year, using any and every excuse imaginable, the Warren County Freeholders have systematically targeted institutions, facilities and programs serving the elderly. They’ve used deceit and backroom finagling to bring Warren Haven to its knees, blaming peer group funding losses, AFSCME union benefits, and finally callouts by nursing staff to justify freezing admissions. They even deceived the public about the New Jersey First Act which, although it preserves jobs for New Jersey residents, allows out-of-state hiring in hardship cases. Taxpaying elderly, handicapped and veterans seeking respite at Warren Haven are now directed to privatized nursing homes in Phillipsburg, turned away from the familiar place where they’d hoped to live out their days….
Warren County, unions meet to discuss future of Warren Haven nursing home
Source: Edward Sieger, Express-Times, April 6, 2014
Following a few tense weeks that saw Warren County freeholders and union officials publicly spar over the future of Warren Haven, the two sides finally sat down for what was described as a productive meeting. … Since an advisory committee issued suggestions for keeping Warren Haven in county hands, union leaders and freeholders have traded barbs over the report, sick time usage at the facility and the fact that the two sides had yet to meet face to face by March 31 as recommended by the committee. Smith said none of those issues came up Friday as the two sides held a “very reasoned discussion.” County officials explained they want to maintain a publicly owned facility but laid out the parameters necessary to achieve that goal, he said. The two sides also briefly discussed what other services Warren Haven could offer in an effort to increase revenues, Smith said. … Freeholders recently instructed county staff to begin procuring the professional services necessary to sell Warren Haven. Smith said the issue did not come up during Friday’s meeting, and that union negotiations can move on a parallel track with the preliminary stages of what would be a lengthy sale process. …
Warren Haven union blasts county over nursing home recommendations
Source: Edward Sieger, Express-Times, March 5, 2014
Union officials representing Warren Haven employees are accusing the county of just using the specter of labor costs as an excuse to privatize the county-owned nursing home. “If you want to close the facility and look for a bad guy, don’t put that burden on the employees, many of whom have spent their entire working lives at the facility,” said Gerard Meara, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 73. … AFSCME Locals 671 and 3287, which fall under Council 73, represent staff at Warren Haven and other county employees. The Warren Haven Advisory Committee last month released recommendations for keeping the nursing home under county ownership, the most significant of which is labor concessions….
Labor union reps disagree with Freeholders on how to save Warren Haven
Source: Emily Cummins, Warren Reporter, March 5, 2014
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a labor union representing Warren Haven’s workers, issued a press release today that calls into question the report and subsequent recommendations made by the Warren County Advisory Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 11.”The report unfairly targets workers, and even speculates about ways to dismantle their union… The committee’s first and most decisive recommendation is to seek significant concessions from workers,” state representatives for AFSCME state in the release…
Editorial: It’s time for serious discussion about selling Warren Haven, Warren County’s nursing home
Source: Express-Times March 5, 2014
The future of Warren Haven, Warren County’s nursing home, is now officially on the clock. Armed with the recommendations of the Warren Haven Advisory Committee, the county freeholders have challenged the union representing workers to sit down and negotiate concessions on salary, health care costs and pension benefits — with the stipulation that significant progress be made by March 31. …
Warren County residents plead for creative solution to financial woes at Warren Haven
Source: Sarah Peters, Express-Times, November 06, 2013
Warren Haven residents, their family members and caretakers pleaded with an advisory committee tonight to find an imaginative solution to privatizing the county-owned nursing home. … A few years ago, the county received $232 per bed per day in Medicaid reimbursement, Olshefski said. Today, the county receives $214, and the rate will drop again to $190 July 1, he said. Privately-paying residents are charged a break-even rate of $285 a day, Olshefski said. Nursing homes around the country, including Gracedale in Northampton County, are facing similar issues, Olshefski said. Unlike their neighbors, Warren County freeholders are limited by the state’s 2 percent cap in how much they can raise in taxes, he said. …
…County residents also asked freeholders to consider a referendum that asks taxpayers whether the county should maintain ownership of Warren Haven similar to a Gracedale ballot question Northampton County voters approved two years ago….
Warren County freeholders privatize some Warren Haven services; workers to be laid-off
Source: Andrew George, Express-Times, March 27, 2013
Warren County freeholders voted unanimously tonight to privatize laundry, housekeeping and dietary services at Warren Haven, a decision that effectively lays off 54 full-time, six part-time and three supervisory staff members. The county will award contracts – $845,000 for laundry and housekeeping services and $1.51 million for dietary services – to Bucks County-based Healthcare Services Group, Inc., which will take over effective July 1….
The National Park Service and the Coast Guard say they will hire contractors for positions typically filled by civilian employees, something a federal union says is illegal. Both agencies say they are within their legal rights. Under federal law, agencies are prohibited from contracting out functions performed by 10 or more civilian employees unless they have documented the cost benefits of such a conversion. …. The Coast Guard wants contractors to collect new user fees at its National Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters, W.Va. …. NPS also argued it could not afford new federal employees. The agency plans to contract out custodial and grounds-keeping work at the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pa….