Category Archives: Custodial

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. …

Related:

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. …

Union members ask trustees to reject outsourcing at UT
Source: MJ Slaby, Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 22, 2016

For nearly a year, members of the United Campus Workers union, like McDaniel, and others have protested a plan by Gov. Bill Haslam that would allow outsourcing of maintenance and management of public buildings, including on college campuses. The state has repeatedly said each campus would be allowed to opt into or out of the plan, which has been met with scepticism by the union. But now, that decision to opt in or out may come at the same time the Knoxville campus has a new chancellor. Based on state timelines, campuses are expected to make decisions in early 2017, and UT President Joe DiPietro said Tuesday he hoped to have a new chancellor in spring 2017. …

Outsourcing Savings Estimates Strain ‘Credulity’
Source: Sam Stockard, Memphis Daily News, May 19, 2016

… The plan, if all departments participate, is projected to save $35.8 million by the second year of a contract for building operations and services – with the requirement state workers keep their jobs, with comparable pay and benefits as long as they perform. The contract would be available for all state properties, enabling colleges and universities, for example, to compare their costs to the contract in deciding whether to opt in, according to Cowles. … The Department of General Services started moving on the process in 2015, much to the chagrin of state employees, primarily United Campus Workers, who contend their jobs and pay will suffer. They rallied during the recent legislative session and then petitioned the governor again in late April. Several state lawmakers also raised questions about the office’s plan when it went before the Senate State and Local Government Committee in March. Some called it “corporate rhetoric,” while others said it “strains credulity.” … In early April, the state made a request for qualifications from potential facilities management service providers to determine whether they can do the job. … The state appears to be head over heels in love with Chicago-based JLL, saying it has saved the state $10 million since it took over facilities management a few years ago. Cowles points out in his presentation JLL is ranked the city’s best employer by the Nashville Business Journal. United Campus Workers is questioning why the office started looking for qualified vendors before the independent review is complete. It also is pointing out the state is continuing to change its tone throughout this situation, now softening its stance to say colleges could choose just to go with a landscaping portion of the contract or janitorial services, for example.

Campus workers present letter of concern to Haslam administration over privatization effort
Source: Richard Locker, Knoxville News Sentinel, April 26, 2016

… The governor’s facilities management outsourcing initiative is apparently the largest ever attempted by a state government. When a request for information was issued last summer to gauge interest from potential contractors, it proposed a contract covering the operation and maintenance of virtually all state-owned property, including office buildings, state parks, college and university campuses, prisons, armories and hospitals. In March, the outsourcing team issued a “business justification” for the plan estimating that it could save taxpayers $36 million a year if fully implemented, even while protecting current employees’ jobs — although their employment would be transferred to the contractor. Cowles acknowledged at the time that no firm cost comparison would be realized until a contract is bid and negotiated. Largely at the request of higher education officials, Haslam agreed to hire an outside consultant to evaluate his team’s estimates of savings and the state on March 17 started the process of selecting a contractor to perform that work.

Tennessee moves to review possible outsourcing partners
Source: Adam Tamburin, The Tennesean, April 11, 2016

The state took steps Monday to review possible options for outsourcing facilities management on college campuses and other government-owned properties. An internal review released last month by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration suggested privatizing the management of residence halls, student centers and other properties across the state could save $36 million annually. On Monday the state released a request for qualifications, or RFQ, that will allow businesses to express interest in participating in the proposed outsourcing plan. … Critics have said outsourcing would translate to sub-par 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.

Critics question Haslam’s outsourcing plan
Source: Joel Ebert, The Tennessean, March 22, 2016

While proponents of the plan say the effort will result in taxpayers saving millions of dollars, Chris Dauphin, the organization’s communications director, questioned the $35.8 million in estimated savings. The figure was mentioned by Terry Cowles, director of customer-focused government, during a presentation to the Senate State and Local Government Committee in early March. On Tuesday, Dauphin told the same committee that the state can save money without having to outsource the facilities management on every state property. … Dauphin advocated for a more common-sense approach before warning that outsourcing could result in cost shifting down the line. He said a private company could decide to have annual rate increases, pointing to a contract between the Texas A&M University system and Compass Group USA, an outsourcing company, that resulted in students being forced into paying more for meal plans as a result of the privatization plan. Dauphin also explained that the 1,647 state workers at the university were forced to reapply for their jobs, with only 600 being rehired.
Continue reading

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. …

Related:

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, Boston.com, 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, Boston.com, 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, Boston.com, 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 Boston.com 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….

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. …

Last chance for Volusia’s school custodian company?

Source: Dustin Wyatt, Daytona Beach News-Journal, July 10, 2016

The company that cleans Volusia County schools is optimistic that the same problems and complaints that stained its first year won’t sweep over into the next. But even though it’s headed into summer fully staffed for the first time — and even though it performed slightly better than mandated by its contract through its first full year — Ohio-based GCA Services may be running out of chances to impress its judges. … GCA entered into a contract with Volusia Schools when the deal with its predecessor, Aramark, turned murky. At the time, employees and board members complained of dirty floors, restrooms that weren’t stocked with toilet paper, soap and paper towels and other issues. Both parties agreed to cut short the five-year deal and GCA was brought in to right the ship. …

Related:

Plenty of complaints about Volusia schools
Source: Ashley D. Thomas, Daytona Times, February 12, 2015

Filthy classrooms, no soap or toilet tissue in bathrooms, roaches on the windowsills, long hours and that pesky pay issue were among the concerns brought by teachers to Tuesday’s meeting of the Volusia County School Board. …. Asked if the teachers are doing custodial work in their classroom/office, nearly 83 percent or 1,310 respondents said yes and 256 said no…. The school board decided in 2013 to outsource custodial services to Aramark Services, reducing the county’s expenses by about $6 million annually. Emails, photos and those speaking to the board tried to indicate that Aramark is not holding up its end of the contract…..

After outsourcing jobs, Volusia reviews school cleanliness
Source: Annie Martin, News-JournalOnline.com, June 2, 2014

Volusia County School Board members say they’ve heard complaints ranging from reeking restrooms to floors that aren’t shiny from school employees this year since the county outsourced custodial services to Aramark Services. … The company picked up 357 former district employees last summer, though 122 have since quit, retired or taken other jobs within the district. Aramark has 394 full-time and part-time employees now, while the district employed 484 custodial workers at the time the Aramark deal was announced. Employees from across the district have complained about cockroaches and trash left for several days, said Laura Cloer, the president of Volusia Educational Support Association. She said her administrators’ requests for Aramark to clean the campus more thoroughly haven’t been granted… She dismissed claims by some — including recent complaints from the union that the in-house employees belonged to — that the company treats workers poorly. …Flanagan said she didn’t think Aramark should consider a rebate because they’re following the terms spelled out in their contract….

Union complains about Volusia school cleanliness
Source: Annie Martin, News-JournalOnline.com, May 13, 2014

….But the district’s schools have received fewer unsatisfactory inspections from the Volusia County Health Department than last year. District schools received a total of 16 unsatisfactory marks this school year. That’s down from 22 last year, said Russ Tysinger, the maintenance and operations director for Volusia schools. Those inspections also touch areas that aren’t under the custodian’s control, he said, such as refrigerators that aren’t at the right temperatures and science lab chemicals that aren’t in the right places. Common reasons for unsatisfactory inspections this year included roaches and a lack of soap and paper towels in the restrooms. But employees think the schools are dirtier than they were last year, Cleary said. He distributed the results from a survey of 202 teachers and paraprofessionals. Three-quarters said there were fewer custodians at their schools than last year, while 70 percent reported the schools were “much worse” than last year. Tysinger said he’s heard more complaints from staff members about conditions in the schools. Prinicipals don’t feel they have as much control as they did before and employees must be more efficient. Aramark also relies more on part-time staff members, he said, and the custodians are using different techniques than they did before…..

Volusia school custodial services review set
Source: Linda Trimble, News-JournalOnline.com, December 8, 2013

The transition to outsourced custodial services in Volusia County schools — which were turned over to a private firm July 1 to save an estimated $6 million annually — is still a work in progress, the School Board will hear Tuesday in a report on how that program is working. … Based on district inspections of schools during the first few months of the contract with Aramark, the report concludes designated cleanliness levels are being maintained on average. The average score for formal inspections was 87 percent for the 37 randomly selected schools that were reviewed in that period, according to the report, with 85 percent considered passing. Seventy percent of the inspected schools scored above 85 percent, while the report said 30 percent scored below that level….

Volusia School Board to vote on outsourcing 30 groundskeeping jobs
Source: Linda Trimble, News-JournalOnline.com, June 9, 2013

The jobs of 30 groundskeepers who mow lawns at Volusia County schools and maintain their sports fields are next on the list to be turned over to a private company as the School Board looks for ways to plug a $19 million hole in its budget. The groundskeeping contract, up for board approval when the School Board meets Tuesday, comes on the heels of a decision two weeks ago to outsource 455 custodial jobs to Aramark Education Services of Philadelphia beginning July 1. That’s expected to save $30 million over the next five years. Superintendent Margaret Smith is recommending the board also approve a five-year contract with GCA Services Group of Cleveland to take over grounds maintenance services July 1. The firm was the lowest of five bidders with an annual price of $1.3 million. The school district now spends $2.1 million a year on grounds maintenance, including labor, equipment and supplies for mowing, trimming, fertilizing and weed and pest control. …

Volusia schools custodians would get shot at jobs if outsourcing falls through
Source: Linda Trimble, News-JournalOnline.com, March 11, 2013

Volusia County school custodians and grounds maintenance workers would have job recall rights if the School Board outsources their jobs as expected in July and decides within three years to abandon that plan. That’s a key provision of a tentative agreement reached Friday between negotiators for the School Board and the union that represents the 485 affected employees. The School Board will be asked to approve the agreement when it meets today.

485 blue-collar workers may be jobless
Source: Al Everson, West Volusia Beacon, February 18, 2013

After almost five hours of analytical presentations and impassioned remarks, the Volusia County School Board voted 3-2 to contract with private firms willing to take over work now done by its own custodians and maintenance personnel…. The School Board’s split vote is not the final move. It authorizes the school-district administration to issue request proposals from prospective contractors, who would make their best bids to take over janitorial work and grounds maintenance at schools and other buildings….

Volusia schools’ proposed outsourced salaries total nearly $18 million
Source: Linda Trimble, News-JournalOnline.com, February 8, 2013

Outsourcing custodial and grounds maintenance services could save the Volusia County School Board $17.8 million in employee salaries and benefits, but how much of that would be offset by having to pay a private firm to clean schools and mow lawns remains to be seen….Smith is proposing all custodial and grounds crew jobs be eliminated from the school district payroll and a private firm be hired effective July 1 to provide those services. That’s the equivalent of 485 full-time workers, with all but 30 of the jobs in custodial services….

…Published reports show Manatee County schools fired a custodial firm last year after complaints of substandard service. Flagler schools canceled a contract with a groundskeeping company five years ago to save money, and the district also lowered its standards for grounds maintenance when it brought the work back in-house….

New contracts bring raises for Ann Arbor Public Schools employees

Source: Lauren Slagter, MLive, June 30, 2016

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board amended its contract for custodial services with GCA Services Group, of Troy. The district entered into a three-year contract with GCA going into the 2014-15 school year when the board voted to privatize the services to save about $2 million. Changes to the agreement will cost an additional $1 million, which still puts the district’s annual savings at $750,000 compared to before hiring GCA, Swift said. The updated agreement will: raise the hourly wage for front line staff from $10 to $12; increase staffing by the equivalent of six full-time positions; increase the days of cleaning from 240 to 260 days a year; shift some general maintenance responsibilities to the school district’s maintenance staff; and refurbish or replace some custodial equipment. … Trustees Simone Lightfoot, Andy Thomas, Donna Lasinksi and Susan Baskett expressed their dissatisfaction with the work performed by GCA so far.

Related:

School custodians consider co-op to keep jobs  
Source: Associated Press, July 7, 2014

Custodians with Ann Arbor schools may form a worker-owned cooperative as part of an effort to keep their jobs if their work is outsourced by the district.  The custodians’ union AFSCME Local 1128 voted Saturday to pursue forming the cooperative. The district could contract with the co-op for custodial work without paying into the state retirement system for school employees…

Outsourced: Ann Arbor Public Schools hires private company for custodial work
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, June 12, 2014

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education approved hiring private company GCA Services to run its custodial services beginning July 1 at its regular meeting Wednesday night. ….. GCA Services is the same company that AAPS was considering initiating a contract with in 2010 for custodial work — but the AFSCME union agreed to an 8 percent wage cut to keep its contract in place. …. AAPS custodians, if selected by GCA, would be hired in at the top of their respective pay scales and would receive seamless healthcare coverage. Benefits with GCA also include dental, vision and life insurance, short-term disability and 401k plans.

Ann Arbor school custodians may form employee-owned co-op in attempt to save their jobs
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, June 10, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools custodians are pursuing an alternative solution in an attempt to save their jobs as district officials consider outsourcing their work to a private company. The custodians’ union, AFSCME Local 1128, voted Saturday to pursue forming a worker-owned cooperative, said President Rick Redding. School board President Deb Mexicotte said the board has not yet received a proposal from the union and had no knowledge of the vote. ….. Forming a co-op would allow the district to contract with the co-op for custodial work, but would mean the district would no longer have to pay into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. Each of the custodians would be a part-owner of the organization.

AAPS to seek bids for custodial work following school board vote
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, May 29, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools will be issuing a request for proposals this week for custodial services as the district seeks ways to cut its costs by outsourcing work. The Board of Education voted 7-0 Wednesday night to approve moving forward with the RFP. …

Ann Arbor school custodians express anger, frustration as district considers outsourcing jobs
Source: Amy Biolchini, mlive.com, May 28, 2014

Angered and frustrated, custodians from Ann Arbor Public Schools gathered for an emergency meeting Tuesday at Scarlett Middle School to figure out how to save their jobs. Members of the custodians union, AFSCME Local 1182, said they were surprised when the district announced to them last Wednesday that it was considering seeking a private company to do custodial work. The union has 114 members. … The union’s contract expires at the end of this fiscal year. Union representatives had entered the first day of scheduled negotiations last week and were presented with a request from the district for a pay freeze, members said Tuesday. On the second day of negotiations the district then said custodial services were being considered for privatization because of the potential savings of $1.8 million, members said. Hearns told the group of custodians that the move could be considered an unfair labor practice and that the union was pursuing action. In the spring of 2010 the district considered outsourcing its custodial services—but the union agreed to an 8 percent pay cut to keep their jobs. …

Lansing School District privatizes custodial, maintenance jobs

Source: RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal, June 17, 2016

The Lansing Board of Education voted Thursday night to privatize more than 100 custodial and maintenance jobs within the Lansing School District. The 7-1 vote was taken 10 months after SodexoMAGIC was initially recommended by the district’s administration. Trustee Guillermo Lopez cast the lone vote in opposition. Approximately 109 district employees are affected by the privatization of custodial and other facilities-related jobs, said Lucy Rensberry, chair of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council Local 1390. … The district will begin negotiations with SodexoMAGIC, a partnership between Sodexo Inc. and the Earvin “Magic” Johnson-owned Magic Johnson Enterprises next week, said Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul. The district has a three-tiered plan it will present to SodexoMAGIC on how to keep employees within three years of reaching their pension thresholds under the district’s payroll until they hit their milestones. … SodexoMAGIC promised a litany of benefits in its proposal, including giving $1 million toward 21st-century classrooms as well as $60,000 in grants and summer internships for students. The company also vowed to hire all existing staff at their previous salaries and seniority levels and spend $750,000 on updated equipment and vehicles. …

Related:

Privatizing custodians in Lansing schools up for vote Thursday
Source: RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal, June 14, 2016

Whether to privatize about 115 custodial and other facilities jobs in the Lansing School District is expected to be decided by the Lansing Board of Education on Thursday. It’s the second time in 10 months board members have been asked by the administration to approve SodexoMAGIC as the district’s facilities management company. … SodexoMAGIC was the highest bidder among those who provided cost estimates, but promised a litany of additional benefits. … SodexoMAGIC also promised to hire all current facilities staff while maintaining wages and seniority. It vowed to invest $750,000 toward improving facilities, including adding staff as well as updated equipment and vehicles. The move would allow the district to focus on education, removing the burden of hiring and training facilities staff, Spadafore added. Current district employees hired by SodexoMAGIC would lose their ability to contribute to the state pension system, a point of contention among staff, according to Dan Hamilton, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25. …

No vote taken on Lansing school’s privatization plan
Source: RJ Wolcott, Lansing State Journal, June 2, 2016

After spending more than 30 minutes discussing the possibility of privatizing custodial and other facilities services within the Lansing School District, Board of Education members chose not to vote on the issue Thursday evening. Several board members cited concerns about the administration’s recommendation to award a facilities management contract to SodexoMAGIC, including how third-party staff would be integrated into schools and what efforts would be made to accommodate current union staff approaching retirement. … The company promised to hire all current facilities staff, roughly 115 employees, and maintain their wages and seniority, and pay $750,000 toward improving infrastructure within the district as well as addition staffing, equipment and vehicles. Custodians and other facilities staff would lose access to state-sponsored pensions if they became SodexoMAGIC employees, according to Dan Hamilton, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25. Several staff members have nearly reached retirement age or their 30-year pension thresholds, and he hopes the district can work with the union to find a way to keep those employees under the district’s banners until they reach their milestones. …
Continue reading

Commentary: Say no to outsourcing custodians

Source: Michael Zilles, President of Newton Teachers Association, Wicked Local, June 10, 2016

The Newton Teachers Association is appalled by the efforts of the School Committee, under Chairman Matt Hills, to outsource the work of the school custodians. It is bad enough that, having outsourced the work of cafeteria workers, Newton already employs the working poor to serve its children lunch; now the committee wants the working poor to clean their schools. … To date, members of the NTA have publicly stated two critical reasons why outsourcing is wrong:

  1. Outsourcing is unsafe. Our custodians are trusted and valued members of the school communities where they work. Contract custodians would not be a part of these communities, and the schools they work in would be neither as clean nor as safe as they are now.
  2. Outsourcing is hypocritical. Newton has prioritized improving the achievement of poor and minority students— closing the achievement gap. Yet by replacing solid middle-class jobs with low- paying contract jobs, Newton would be contributing to the very economic conditions that create that gap.

Related:

Newton School Committee, custodians at odds over outsourcing
Source: Laura Lovett, Wicked Local, May 18, 2016

After almost two years of contract negotiations, custodians and the School Committee are at a stalemate, the issue of outsourcing emerging as one obstacle to reaching an agreement. A jurisdiction clause dating back to the 1990s allows only union custodians to perform custodial work in the school buildings. At issue is whether the clause will be removed from a new contract. If the clause were to be removed some custodians could be replaced with contract employees making lower wages, according to Alan McDonald, the attorney representing the Newton Public School Custodians Association. Currently there are roughly 80 custodians in the schools. … In the response, outsourcing was discussed at length. The response said the School Committee presented several proposals with the goal of efficiency in operations and saving money. A consultant’s report by Core Management Services LLC, commissioned by the School Committee in 2015, identified potential annual cost savings through outsourcing of up to $3 million. …

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.” …

Related:

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. …
Continue reading

Campus insources workers after ongoing plans

Source: Kimberly Nielson, The Daily Californian, May 16, 2016

After seven months of protests by campus employees and students, UC Berkeley finalized plans to insource 69 campus workers from three private contract companies last week. The decision to insource workers was part of the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan, a broader university movement aiming to support campus employees and raise their salaries, campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email. She added that campus officials have coordinated with AFSCME, a labor union representing UC workers, to work out appointment details since March. The campus has offered employment to all formerly contracted night shift and athletic custodians, as well as campus parking attendants contracted through LAZ Parking, according to Gilmore. She also noted that workers from ABM and Performance First were also given priority employment with the university. … Campus officials will also discontinue contracting additional parking or custodial workers for the remainder of the existing service agreement, extending their efforts to remedy “grotesque injustice” endured by contracted workers on campus, according to Stenhouse. …

Related:

Opinion: Union calls for reasonable reform at UC
Source: Katherine Lybarger, President of AFSCME Local 3299, Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2016

As a widening scandal involving misuse of public funds and other ethical breaches by its top brass grips the University of California, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board criticized UC’s largest employee union for advocating greater scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest at UC (“Let’s step back from UC Davis turmoil”; May 1). The board also criticized AFSCME Local 3299 for legislation that would encourage UC elites to stop squandering public funds on private contractors that exploit low-wage workers. There are thousands of contract custodians, landscapers, food service workers and others who do the same full-time jobs as direct UC employees for a fraction of the pay and no benefits. Instead of bringing these workers in-house, UC has fought to ensure its well-connected contractors continue to profit by condemning legions of these workers to lives of poverty and second-class status. … UC has recently told the Legislature that providing livable wages and direct employment to contract workers affected by Senate Bill 959 wouldn’t cost UC a dollar more. In fact, they’ve said it might even save money since $138 million of the $345 million that UC spends on such deals is squandered on overhead and contractor profits. In other words, the editorial board’s assertions about SB 959 simply do not add up. …

Campus sheds light on rationale for insourcing formerly subcontracted workers
Source: Ericka Shin, The Daily Californian, March 30, 2016

The campus already had plans in the works to insource or fill vacant positions for at least 55 custodians prior to the recent agreement, but the March 18 decision has resulted in the campus offering jobs to an additional 14 custodians and 24 parking attendants, according to an email from Mogulof. Among these newly insourced employees are the 69 workers employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking who are being officially insourced as UC employees, according to Kristian Kim, a member of the campus’s Student Labor Committee. The agreement also stipulates that the campus will not contract out regularized parking or custodial work through June 30, 2017, Mogulof said in an email.

UC Berkeley Agrees to Hire Subcontracted Workers After Threats of Boycott
Source: Josh Lefler, The Guardian, March 27, 2016

The University of California hires at least 45 different private companies to fill staffing positions across the UC campuses in the areas of custodial work, food services, landscaping, security, parking and more, according to an AFSCME 3299 report. The same report concluded that these workers are paid as little as 53 percent less than workers who are employed directly by the University of California and do not receive the same benefits. The nearly 100 subcontracted workers, who were just recently hired by the university, were described as having “more than 440 years of combined experience working at UC Berkeley,” but were paid below the wage of an official UC employee, according to Stenhouse.

UC Berkeley reaches labor agreement on contract workers
Source: Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times, March 18, 2016

UC Berkeley, in what one of its unions hailed as a “historic victory for contract workers,” has agreed to offer direct employment to all regular night shift and athletics custodians currently working at the institution through private contractors, the university announced Friday. As part of the agreement, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 will end its “speakers boycott,” the university said. Under the boycott, AFSCME objected to speakers with engagements at the campus. … The union said 93 custodial and parking workers fall under the agreement. The university said it will offer to hire all campus stack parking attendants currently employed through LAZ Parking. …

Subcontracted campus workers insourced as UC employees, ending speakers’ boycott
Source: Adrienne Shih, The Daily Californian, March 18, 2016

After nearly seven months of campaigning, 69 previously subcontracted workers have officially been insourced as UC employees, ending an ongoing campus speakers’ boycott. The workers — employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking — were previously a part of the University of California’s two-tier employment policy. The campus employs some individuals directly, or in-house, while others who do temporary or seasonal work are employed as subcontracted workers, receiving reduced pay and fewer benefits than their directly employed counterparts.
Continue reading