Category Archives: Maintenance

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. …


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.


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. …


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. …

Second DC Metro contractor charged with sexual assault

Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, August 11, 2016

A second van driver who was contracted by Washington’s transit authority has been charged with the sexual assault of a disabled passenger this week. Police in Fairfax County, a Virginia suburb of Washington, announced Thursday that Jose G. Pino Estrada of Alexandria has been arrested Tuesday for allegedly raping a 51-year-old woman. Estrada, 35, works for Diamond Transportation, which provides services for MetroAccess, a door-to-door service for elderly or disabled people who cannot use the Metro bus or rail systems. … The charges follow a separate arrest this week, in which a driver working for a different company contracted by Metro was accused of sexually assaulting an intellectually disabled passenger in the back of a MetroAccess van. …


MetroAccess Driver Accused of Sexually Assaulting Passenger
Source: Matthew Stabley, NBC 4, April 25, 2013

Metro Transit Police arrested a MetroAccess driver on a first-degree sexual assault charge Wednesday…. Porter works for MV Transportation, which provides MetroAccess service. Metro requires the company to perform background checks on employees who provide MetroAccess service. A check by News4 shows that Porter plead guilty in 2008 to driving on a suspended license and was put on probation. After its contract ends in June, MV Transportation will only operate a call center as part of a change in business model, Metro’s Dan Stessel said. Three other companies will operate the service, hiring drivers and providing maintenance. In 2010, MV Transportation launched an independent investigation into its hiring and training practices after four drivers were accused of sexually assaulting passengers.

County unlikely to privatize EMS, libraries

Source: Gary Pinnell, Highlands Today, August 14, 2016

A push to transfer 10 county departments to private employers began in 2013 when Positive Mobility’s Ron Layne suggested ambulances for hire should transport non-emergency patients. Tea party members stood in front of the county commission and lobbied for months for Layne’s plan. … But the emergency part of the ambulance service is unlikely to be privatized, three commissioners said Tuesday. … The commissioners went a lot farther down the road to privatizing county services in a 2014 goal-setting workshop: recycling, landfill, libraries, Healthy Families, real estate surveying, fleet maintenance, asphalt production and road paving. Bids were accepted for janitorial services for county offices, but the issue was always a non-starter with constitutional officers. … Elwell pointed out in November that the county privatized tourism by replacing tourism director John Scherlacher with a contract with Gray Dog Communications. Brooks and Elwell said privatizing libraries was a non-starter. … The county continues to look at farming out Healthy Families, a home visitation program for expectant parents and parents of newborns. The program is designed to educate parents and improve childhood outcomes. An Aug. 2 note from County Administrator June Fisher to commissioners said, “holding periodic meetings with interested parties and non-profits to continue the discussion of partnership opportunities.” Commissioners un-privatized the county attorney’s office. Last year, Ross Macbeth was in private practice and billed the county an average of $246,000 per year. …


One item completed on county privatization list
Source: Gary Pinnell, Highlands Today, October 28, 2015

Nineteen months after commissioners agreed to privatize 10 Highlands County functions, they’re still months away from completing the second item. The top-ten list that came out of the March 2, 2014 goal-setting workshop included transferring EMS to private ambulance companies, recycling, legal services, fleet maintenance, real estate surveying, Healthy Families and janitorial. Contracting with a company to clean county buildings is now off the table. … Handley doesn’t think privatizing the landfill will happen, though. … In a report to commissioners last week, County Administrator June Fisher said EMS revenues and expenditures have been reviewed. “We’re still waiting on a needs assessment,” Elwell said. The final report will disclose options for EMS and the volunteer fire departments to combine. “Maybe we could move toward fire-rescue, and have one crew instead of two, with cross-trained personnel.” … “I don’t think EMS will be privatized,” Richie said. … Commissioners un-privatized the county attorney. Ross Macbeth was a part-timer who ran a private practice and contracted with the county. But during one three-year period, he billed $1 million, and the commissioners saw a cost-saving opportunity. As of Oct. 1, Macbeth has moved into a county office, and hired a secretary and assistant attorney, both to be paid by the county. … County staff visited a county library in Sumter County that had been privatized. “The staff met them, and they said they would not recommend it. It’s a different situation, and the people they met with didn’t recommend it.”

Lansing ends privatized parts deal at city garage

Source: Eric Lacy, Lansing State Journal, July 15, 2016

The City of Lansing will terminate its relationship with a private company to supply and manage parts at the central garage because the effort “hasn’t met our expectations for cost savings,” Mayor Virg Bernero said Friday in a press from his office. A licensing agreement with NAPA is expected to end sometime in the next 30 days. Bernero said in the press release that the city decided to end the agreement after several weeks of careful financial analysis. … The city’s central garage manages and supplies parts for items and vehicles ranging from chainsaws and lawnmowers to ambulances and police cars. After Bernero’s announcement, Dennis Parker, president of UAW Local 2256 and a city employee, told the Lansing State Journal he applauds the decision. Bernero pushed for the city’s contract with NAPA over the winter — authorizing three NAPA employees to work in the garage — and estimated  that the contract could save “50,000 to $150,000” and “greatly increase efficiency” in an interview with the LSJ on Feb. 25. No city employees lost their jobs when NAPA moved in, but the UAW did lose two bargaining unit positions in the garage because two city employees were reassigned by Bernero’s administration to operations and maintenance duties. …

Atlantic City council to consider seeking bids to outsource services

Source: Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City, July 13, 2016

City Council on Wednesday will consider seeking bids to outsource some municipal services. Council will vote on requesting proposals for the operation of the Construction Division, payroll services and emergency dispatch services. Entering shared services agreements or giving contracts to lowest bidders to was mentioned in a June meeting on the city’s fiscal recovery plan. … City Council on Wednesday will consider seeking bids to outsource some municipal services. Council will vote on requesting proposals for the operation of the Construction Division, payroll services and emergency dispatch services. Entering shared services agreements or giving contracts to lowest bidders to was mentioned in a June meeting on the city’s fiscal recovery plan.  The city’s 2015 budget doesn’t specify the costs of the Construction Division, which is within the Licensing & Inspections Department, or payroll and dispatch services. … The council recently approved seeking bids for trash and recycling collection. Levinson said the county is reviewing the city’s Meals on Wheels transportation service costs to see if the county can do to for cheaper. The council will also vote on authorizing the city to sell developer Bart Blatstein Garden Pier for $1.5 million and awarding a contract to a company to sell ads on the exterior of some city vehicles. …