Category Archives: Maintenance

Lawmakers, union leaders want MBTA privatization reigned in

Source: Metro, October 3, 2017
 
The MBTA privatization debate may change course after lawmakers urged their colleagues Monday to start rolling back the privatization powers they granted the T after the disastrous 2015 winter.  After winter storms suspended the MBTA’s train service more than once, lawmakers gave Gov. Charlie Baker three years to fix the T without the constraints of the Taxpayer’s Protection Act, called the Pacheco law. That law requires private contractors to prove cost savings and no service reduction before any state service can be outsourced.  Since the law’s suspension, the MTA has outsourced cash handling and equipment management operations and is considering privatizing bus maintenance at three garages. …

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Quincy officials to speak against privatization of Quincy T facility
Source: Sean Philip Cotter, The Patriot Ledger, September 22, 2017

As the prospect of privatizing services at the MBTA maintenance garage in Quincy approaches, two Quincy officials plan to speak in a state Senate hearing against the prospect. State Sen. John Keenan and state Rep. Tackey Chan will speak Oct. 4 before a hearing of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, letting their concerns about privatizing the operations of Quincy’s and similar garages. The T’s request for proposals for contractors to take over up to three garage’s operations are due on Wednesday. If the T wishes, the contractors could begin operations around the start of the new year, according to the request for proposals the agency issued in July. …

MBTA union blasts Baker’s privatization plan
Source: Christian M. Wade, Gloucester Times, August 14, 2017
 
Union workers at the MBTA are pushing back against Gov. Charlie Baker’s plans to privatize bus maintenance, saying it will cost jobs and compromise safety.  Hundreds of workers rallied Thursday outside the MBTA’s Lynn garage, where they blasted Baker’s support for hiring private companies to take over bus maintenance.  “Gov. Baker has chosen to gamble with the taxpayers, the safety of riders and the livelihoods of these hardworking men and women,” said Michael Vartabedian, who heads the International Association of Machinists Local 264, a union representing 120 MBTA bus maintenance machinists. “We won’t let core public services like MBTA bus maintenance be dismantled and destroyed.” …

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Council urges Univ. of Memphis to decline state outsourcing contract

Source: Michelle Corbet, Memphis Business Journal, September 20, 2017

With the University of Memphis’ next Board of Trustees meeting set for early October, members of the Memphis City Council are asking that the group think twice before opting into the state’s facilities management contract. It’s no secret the University of Memphis plans to opt into the state’s property management contract, said Councilman Martavius Jones, who sponsored a resolution Sept. 19 urging local universities and their administrators to do the opposite. In May, the State of Tennessee entered into a contract with Chicago-based JLL to privatize maintenance, security, janitorial and landscaping services for state-owned public colleges and universities. “Based on my experience on the school board, the quality of the service, the cleanliness and the general morale suffered [when outsourced],” said Jones, who served on the Memphis City Schools Board from 2006 to 2013. …

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Does Outsourcing Some State Jobs Save TN Taxpayers Money?
Source: Local Memphis, August 31, 2017
 
Many Tennessee lawmakers hope to see if outsourcing some state jobs actually saves taxpayers money. It’s been a controversial topic since Governor Bill Haslam began implementing the idea a few years ago.  Questions about outsourcing are always the same. Does it save money and is there accountability?  “There’s… people concerned about state jobs all over Tennessee,” said one protester.  Many state lawmakers have heard and seen the protests about the ongoing outsourcing of state jobs. That’s why a majority of legislators from both parties signed a letter of concern earlier this year to Governor Haslam. The Governor has defended outsourcing state jobs in some areas, especially on state college campuses. …

UT campus workers protest Gov. Haslam’s outsourcing plan
Source: WBIR, August 28, 2017

University of Tennessee Knoxville staff, faculty and students joined local business leaders, state representatives and faith leaders in a demonstration Monday to call on university officials to “opt-out” of Gov. Bill Haslam’s outsourcing plan. The demonstration was organized by United Campus Workers. Last week, a bill to introduce oversight in outsourcing was heard in summer study in the General Assembly. If the university were to “opt-in”, United Campus Workers believe as many as 10,000 facilities jobs, including hundreds in Knoxville, would be outsourced. Those who oppose the plan fear it will result in job loss, loss of oversight and accountability, reduced services and negative consequences for local businesses which provide services to campuses. …

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Niles Township High School Union Contract Ushers In New Era

Source: Tom Robb, Journal & Topics Online, August 23, 2017

The Niles Township High School Dist. 219 Board of Education on Aug. 15 approved a new contract for the Niles Township Federation of Teachers and Support Staff, who earlier the same day voted to accept the July 1, 2017-effective agreement. … Under the new agreement, 37 staff support positions currently performed by outsourced contract workers will become direct district employee positions. The contract also covers 369.5 full-time teachers and 205 support staff.
Maintenance, clerical and librarian jobs that were contracted would become district union employee positions. Cafeteria, janitorial, security and transportation workers would remain contracted. District and union officials said district employees would have preference in hiring to fill those positions.

… The shift from contracted workers to direct district employees is significant. According to union President Ann Goethals, former Supt. Nanciann Gatta was on record as wanting to have only teachers and paraprofessionals working as classroom teacher aids to be in union bargaining units. Before her departure in 2015, Gatta told the Journal she was trying to outsource non-core educational positions in the district. Supt. Steven Isoye said the having the majority of workers in the school as direct employees generates better productivity. Union members complained bitterly at a school board meeting last year about contracting and outsourcing positions. …

Operators picked for privatized state parks near Delta

Source: Sam Friedman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, August 3, 2017
 
The Alaska Division of Parks and Recreation announced earlier this summer that, because of budget cuts from the Legislature, parks employees would cease providing services such as trash pickup and outhouse cleaning at six state parks around Delta Junction.  The state put those maintenance services out to bid in July. Under the contracts, the businesses are to provide services and collect fees from park visitors for amenities such as parking, camping and boat launch use. In return, the businesses pay a flat fee to the state as well as a percentage of revenues from the businesses. …

N.J. Lottery Sales Fall Short Following Privatization

Source: SNJ Today, April 18, 2017

Those hoping to win big in the New Jersey State lottery are spending less on their dreams.  State lottery sales are down for the third year since being privatized.  Lottery operations management firm Northstar New Jersey promised a return of more than $1.4 billion over 15 years when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie moved the games to privatization in 2013.  Since then, Northstar has missed its income projections and spent $20 million in allowance funds to cover financial shortfalls. …

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Privatizing lottery isn’t lucrative deal for New Jersey
Source: Michael Catalini, Associated Press, January 9, 2016

New Jersey might get $1 billion less out of its state lottery as part of an amended 15-year deal with the private company that runs part of it, according to an Associated Press analysis. The deal, unveiled by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration on New Year’s Eve, also reduces the amount the company must generate to avoid penalties. The revenue targets that Northstar New Jersey has to meet have been lowered by about $76 million per year over the contract, which was struck in 2013. The total revenue projection was decreased from nearly $16 billion to about $15 billion. … The underperformance — including a $5 million drop in revenue in 2015 — has raised questions from Democrats about the privatization strategy championed by Christie, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who promoted lottery outsourcing as a way to shrink the government’s payroll and bring in more cash. The lottery brought in $960 million in fiscal year 2015, down from initial expectations of a little more than $1 billion.

New Jersey Having Second Thoughts After Privatizing Lottery
Source: John Reitmeyer, NBC Philadelphia, October 8, 2015
Two years after New Jersey turned over some state lottery functions to a private venture under a controversial long-term deal, lawmakers are questioning why revenues have not met expectations and whether the privatization contract is worth it. The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee announced yesterday that it will hold a hearing on October 19 to review New Jersey’s deal with Northstar New Jersey to address concerns raised in recent weeks about fees Northstar is collecting even as it has failed to meet net-revenue targets. An Assembly committee is also scheduling a hearing on the deal. … Gordon, the Senate committee chairman, said the hearing on October 19 will also review the broader privatization issue, and whether the state is up to the task of monitoring such large contracts. He cited problems the state has had with private companies handling some of the recovery efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 as another reason to broaden the scope of the hearing.

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Custodians, maintenance workers believe CMU admins could privatize workforce in the name of budget adjustments

Source: Ben Solis, Central Michigan Life, March 26, 2017

Some custodians and maintenance staff employees have concerns about layoffs and outsourcing, according to the president and other members of the union that represents them.  As Central Michigan University administrators grapple with a two-year $20 million budget deficit, service, maintenance and custodial employees on campus believe both situations are likely, said Karen Witer, president of AFSCME Local #1568 and a custodian at CMU. … AFSCME’s fear of staff cuts is compounded by its upcoming negotiation of a new service contract. The union also believes CMU’s history with privatization is a sign that its workforce could be outsourced as well.  AFSCME and the university are expected to begin negotiations sometime after spring courses end in May.  When AFSCME members seek higher wages for employees making $10.08 an hour, Witer said her group is commonly confronted with talk of privatization. … CMU outsources some of its custodial work to Romanow Building Services, a Saginaw-based company, said Barrie Wilkes, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services. The university also privatized its dining services by contracting with Aramark in the mid 1990s. … Witer believes Romanow could potentially take over all custodial services at the university if administrators think the company is more affordable and more efficient. …

CPS building engineers say privatization effort will be costly

Source: Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, January 22, 2017

Chicago Public Schools building engineers say a plan to put the rest of the district’s schools under private facilities management companies is going to cost the broke school system dearly. And they’re surprised the district has already planned which schools will be managed by Aramark and SodexoMAGIC before the Board of Education has inked a deal with the two companies, whose past work has drawn complaints. CPS won’t say how much the “integrated management services” might cost, nor would the district demonstrate they would save any money for the school system still begging state lawmakers for $215 million to balance its current operating budget. … CPS wants the transition complete by the summer of 2018. Few details about the new plans have been publicized. … A vote to put the rest of CPS schools under Aramark and SodexoMAGIC for things like pest control, snow removal and some building repairs could come as soon as the school board meeting Wednesday. More than 80 schools are part of a pilot program. … Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said school leaders do want that single point of contact; they just want control over school engineers back. … Carbon monoxide problems in schools last year — namely at Prussing Elementary, where children and teachers were hospitalized — happened after engineers were absent, he said. LaRaviere also questioned why companies that have cost more than projected and continue to draw complaints are being rewarded with more work. CPS paid Aramark more than $7 million extra in its first year of cleaning schools because 3.2 million square feet, including 22 entire schools, weren’t included in original estimates. … About 480 engineers working for CPS will be laid off, though the district says they can reapply for their jobs under a different union. It’s not clear how many will qualify or how much they will be paid.

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Union: Privatizing all CPS buildings could harm city pension fund
Source: Lauren Fitzpatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, May 30, 2016

Chicago Public Schools has doubled the number of schools whose facilities will be managed by private companies, a move the engineers union says won’t save the broke district any money. The president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143 also warned that CPS’ plan to move all 550 buildings to private managers will come with a larger cost to the city’s struggling municipal employees’ pension fund. … The fund’s executive director, James Mohler, told engineers that a “sudden removal of a large number of contributing employees can be detrimental” to the pension fund. He also warned that a mass termination of eligible workers could lead them to retire sooner, straining the fund to pay benefits for a longer time. Mohler couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The city still is looking for a solution to sustainably fund the municipal pensions, which currently stand at about 33 percent. …

Chicago School Board Moves To Privatize Engineers
Source: Sarah Karp, WBEZ, May 26, 2016

School board members voted on Wednesday to allow two companies to take over the management of engineers in 50 schools. Engineers do upkeep and facility management at schools.  By the 2017-2018 school year, if school district leaders go through with their current plans, all engineers will be working for a private company, as opposed to Chicago Public Schools. … School district officials have argued that privatizing these services is cheaper and more efficient. However, the hiring of Aramark for custodians was met with sharp criticism from principals, who said their schools were dirty as the company cut the number of custodians, changed their hours and gave them different task lists. … Aramark already manages custodians in all the schools where SodexoMAGIC is not. Under the agreement, they will take over managing engineers in 20 schools. CPS will not pay the company’s additional money to assume this extra management, according to the board report. Aramark’s existing contract is for $260 million, while SodexoMAGIC has an $80 million contract.  But taking on this extra work will likely pay off for these companies. In April, Chicago Public Schools announced it was proposals to find a company to provide integrated facilities management for all the 400-some district-run schools. … William Iacullo, president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143, questioned board members about why they would give SodexoMAGIC and Aramark the benefit of participating in an expanded pilot program, while the district is in the process of awarding a big contract for the same services.  The expanded pilot program was not bid out, but, because it is expected to be cost neutral, it doesn’t have to be, according to district officials. …

Chicago school board approves expanded private maintenance program
Source: Juan Perez, Jr, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2016

The head of the labor union representing Chicago Public Schools’ building engineers called plans to privatize his group’s work a “money pit scheme” as the district’s board approved an expansion of a privately managed maintenance program. The unanimous vote by the Chicago Board of Education doubles the size of an upkeep program managed under contract of up to $80 million won by SodexoMAGIC, a company partly controlled by former NBA superstar and Mayor Rahm Emanuel supporter Earvin “Magic” Johnson. … CPS has requested proposals to standardize the custodial program — known as “integrated facilities management” — at all schools by the 2017-18 school year. That would affect hundreds of building engineers covered by a district labor contract that expires next month. … Iacullo said the union offered terms for a five-year contract but CPS rejected the terms. Under the integrated facilities management model, SodexoMAGIC handled custodial and engineering services, snow removal, landscaping and pest control at 33 district schools. The expansion approved Wednesday adds 30 schools to the company’s purview, CPS said. SodexoMAGIC also oversees CPS’ entire school facilities management system. ….

Rock Valley College to explore outsourcing, eliminating paid days off

Source: Corina Curry, Rockford Register Star, September 21, 2016

Rock Valley College will explore outsourcing and the elimination of paid days off as it continues to face state budget uncertainty. RVC President Mike Mastroianni informed members of the college’s Operations Committee tonight that he would like to get a financial analysis on the outsourcing of auxiliary services — functions such as snow plowing, landscaping, information technology, publishing, printing and purchasing co-ops. … The number of employees that could be affected by outsourcing is not known at this time, Mastroianni said. The college went for almost a year without state aid payments. It was anticipating $7.1 million to support college operations for FY 2016 and ended up getting $1.2 million in April after several months of receiving no revenue. Rock Valley made about $1.3 million in staff cuts in December. Classes and educational programs remained intact, but students lost men’s and women’s tennis and men’s golf programs. The college also placed a moratorium on unnecessary travel, community sponsorships, catering expenses and cellphone allowances. In March, it approved a nearly 9 percent tuition increase. …

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. …

OSHA Cites Joliet Contractor for Allowing Workers in Unsafe Trench

Source: Scott Viau, Joliet Patch, September 6, 2016

A Joliet construction contractor cited six previous times by OSHA has received another citation after allowing employees to work in an unsafe trench. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors issued one willful and two serious safety citations to P.T. Ferro Construction Co. for putting workers at risk at a Lansing work site, according to a news release from OSHA. Workers were excavating utility lines 7 feet deep. … OSHA cited Ferro for allowing its employees to work in the trench without cave-in protection and a means to exit the trench quickly in a collapse. In addition, inspectors determined a competent person was aware of the hazardous conditions but still allowed the worker to enter the trench. … Established in 1964, P.T. Ferro is a Joliet-based construction contractor that has held contracts awarded by the Illinois Department of Transportation, county and local governments, and the private sector. Its current projects include multi-million contracts in Joliet, Lockport/Romeoville, Crest Hill, New Lenox and Shorewood. …