Category Archives: Maintenance

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. …

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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….

Letter: Cul-de-sac privatization an irresponsible idea

Source: Kate Newton, Connect Fitchburg, July 7, 2016

There has been a lot of talk in Fitchburg about cul-de-sacs as a result of Mayor Steve Arnold’s suggestion of privatizing certain roads maintained by the public (such as cul-de-sacs) in the cover letter of his Capital Improvement Plan. As homeowners who chose to live on a cul-de-sac many years ago, we are troubled by the suggestion of arbitrarily cutting us off from a public service, such as road maintenance. … If the mayor wants to privatize our street and other cul-de-sacs, where does this kind of idea end? The definition of cul-de-sac applies to every type of dead-end street in Fitchburg. This would have a major financial impact on thousands of people – homeowners and businesses alike. …

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Mayor suggests privatizing cul-de-sacs to emphasize need for road funding
Source: Leah Linchield, Channel 3000, June 14, 2016

A new way to fix bad roads in Fitchburg could leave residents paying the price. … She never imagined it could cost her, but that’s exactly what Fitchburg Mayor Steve Arnold mentioned in a letter to the City Council that suggested the suburb could privatize cul-de-sacs, leaving residents on the hook for maintenance. … It’s not a popular idea; not even Arnold – who proposed it in the first place – is a fan. … Arnold said street funding has seemed to go in circles in recent years, as the city replaces road pavement at the rate of roughly every 45 years, when it should be replaced every 30. The city council is in the process of considering whether to spend more or less money on roads in its Capital Improvement Program. Arnold said the point of this particular idea, however bad, is simply to stress the need for road repairs. …

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. …

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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.
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WKU staff respond to news of new employer

Source: Monica Kast, WKU Herald, May 5, 2016

Employees who will be moving to employment by Sodexo will receive a pay increase, and the starting wage will now be $10.26, one dollar more than the current starting wage. Sodexo will also reimburse employees who want to take courses that will further their career path, according to Russell. Despite the welcome of Sodexo and assurances from administration, not every employee is confident that the change is for the best. Brenda Whitaker has been an employee at WKU for 26 years. She currently works as a BSA on campus. Because she is near retirement, she will remain employed by WKU, but she said she didn’t agree with moving others to Sodexo. … At the forum, BSA employees were able to voice some of that negative feedback. Most concerns were about retaining vacation days and potentially losing tuition benefits that are currently offered to employees. Yost said employees would begin acquiring vacation and sick days with Sodexo on August 1. “Holidays will be determined by Sodexo USA management,” Yost said. “Under Sodexo USA, employees will be awarded a beginning vacation leave balance based upon their years of service at Western Kentucky University. Effective August 1, 2016, employees will accrue vacation and sick time, both of which will be based upon Sodexo USA’s accrual schedule and their years of service to Western Kentucky University.” …

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Frustrations and concerns voiced at WKU budget cut forum
Source: Aaron Mudd, Bowling Green Daily News, April 29, 2016

Frustrations and concerns about a planned budget cut of more than $6 million at Western Kentucky University brought students and staff together for an open forum Thursday. … On Wednesday, the university announced a plan to spread out a $6,039,200 budget cut in fiscal year 2017. The cut was possible by trimming from 24 different areas, Ransdell said, and it had to be done without threatening filled faculty positions, credit-bearing academic programs and core student services.  Some programs were consolidated, reduced or eliminated, Ransdell said. About six current WKU employees will lose their jobs, he said.  Ransdell said a move to transfer 202 building services and grounds employees to private contractor Sodexo will save 25 jobs and about $750,000. A 48 percent employer contribution increase to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System is a notable cost to WKU. … Compared to the 10 vacation days WKU provides in December, Sodexo provides three days. Bryan Russell, WKU’s chief facilities officer, said the university will buy out any unused vacation time when the employees transfer to Sodexo in July.  Despite the budget cut, WKU is also phasing in a 3 percent salary increase for all full-time employees between July 1 and July 1, 2017. …

WKU Building and Grounds Employees Voice Concerns in Budget Forum
Source: Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio, April 28, 2016

The president of Western Kentucky University says building services attendants will get “pretty similar” benefits when their work is transferred to a private contractor. … Under the change, employees will get fewer sick days. That’s a concern for Paul Barbour, whose wife works as a BSA.  Barbour says she’s taken a lot of time off because of ailments related to a car accident. Barbour fears the Sodexo will put productivity over people. … Sodexo is also expected to offer less paid vacation time around Christmas time.  Employees will get three days off in December compared to the 10 days they were given by WKU.   No BSAs will lose their jobs.  They’ll also receive a one dollar per hour raise when they transfer to Sodexo.

WKU plan privatizes 202 staff positions
Source: Jacob Dick, WKU Herald, April 27, 2016

WKU custodial, building services, groundskeeping and waste management employees working on the Bowling Green campus will be employed by a private company starting in August to save money in the 2016-17 budget. On Wednesday, university administration informed faculty and staff that Sodexo, a private employment management service, would be taking over as employer for an additional 202 WKU workers. The change is supposed to save $745,000 for the next fiscal year. … Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell confirmed at a media briefing Wednesday that 18 staff with 20 or more years of employment would remain under WKU. … Russell said employees hired at the starting rate of $9.26 would receive that raise, and staff who were paid more than that amount will have their salaries adjusted with smaller raises. Russell also said children of staff currently enrolled in the university will still receive tuition discounts for attending WKU. Staff will receive discounts until 2017. … WKU has had a contract with Sodexo for 20 years, and the contract will be amended at the end of the fiscal year to include additional staff.

WKU ground and service employment to be privatized
Source: WKU Herald, April 27, 2016

WKU custodial, building services, landscape and waste management employees working on the Bowling Green campus will no longer be employed by the university effective this August. On Wednesday, employees were informed that their employment with the university would end in July and that a private employment management service, Sodexo, would be taking over as their employer. … It continued to state that areas within the Department of Facilities Management, Housing and Residence Life and Downing Student Union would not be impacted.

Hundreds attend N.J. school district meeting to fight outsourcing

Source: Brittany M. Wehner, NJ.com, April 29, 2016

A South Jersey school district has decided to seek bids for services that could replace staff, school board officials said Thursday night. Due to a deficit in the budget, Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional School District administration is being forced to find a way to fill the gaps. One possibility is job cuts, then outsourcing, or bringing outside services into the district. Woodstown-Pilesgrove faced a $1.4 million deficit in the budget in May 2015, which also brought layoffs. However, the budget is still at a deficit of $333,223, according to District Business Administrator Frank Rizzo. Since 2010, the district has already cut more than 30 staff positions. The district now faces possible cuts in class-three maintenance, custodial, cafeteria, and paraprofessional staff. … When it came down to the vote granting administration permission to research costs for outsourcing, the board was split. It passed with a 4 to 3 vote with one abstention. … However, hundreds of parents, teachers, and staff turned out for the board meeting and made their voices and concerns heard, claiming outsourcing is not the way to go.

NMU looking to privatize certain services

Source: Ben Oldach, Upper Michigan Source, February 5, 2016

NMU is working with a private housing developer EDR to create new campus housing. As part of the public-private agreement, the developer would take on all costs of construction and maintenance for a set amount of time. … In addition, Northern has three bids to consider for privatizing the bookstore. Hall says any employees would go through a re-hiring process with the new company. He doesn’t anticipate anyone losing their jobs.

Editorial: Casco Bay Bridge privatization could lead Maine DOT down unknown road

Source: Portland Press Herald, November 6, 2015

But who runs and keeps up the span has been making headlines lately, after recent reports that the Maine Department of Transportation wants a private company to take over bridge operations. The MDOT hasn’t shared many details about the proposed privatization – and now is the time for it to get down to specifics. … Cutting expenses is the major factor driving the Casco Bay Bridge privatization plan, according to the MDOT. But the agency hasn’t said how much it spends now to operate or maintain the bridge, so we don’t know whether those costs are out of line with what other states shell out. The MDOT also says that operating and maintaining the bridge doesn’t address the agency’s “core mission,” unlike services such as plowing and road work. That’s a surprising shift in attitude, given that a 2007 MDOT report on Maine bridge safety called bridges “critical transportation assets.”

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For First Time, Maine Seeks Bids to Privatize Bridge’s Operations
Source: Jay Field, MPBN News, October 30, 2015

The operation and maintenance of the Casco Bay Bridge between the city and South Portland would be privatized, under bids being solicited by the Maine Department of Transportation. A transportation official says that the move will help save taxpayer dollars and allow the department to focus on its core mission — maintaining state roads. But the union representing bridge workers says the move could threaten public safety. … Feeley, the union’s general counsel, say the MSEA has as many as 10 full-time employees who work on the bridge. The workers, he says, have extensive training and a long track record of operating and maintaining the bridge safely. … This week’s request for bids marks the first time the state has moved to put the operation of a major bridge into private hands. … Private contractors have until Nov. 18 to submit bids to the Maine Department of Transportation.

Trending Now: Simpler Contracting for Government Construction

Source: Governing, November 2011 (Subscription Required)

Public sector organizations usually have a long list of repair, renovation, alteration and modernization projects. Whether big or small, these construction projects are often procured with the same processes for issuing RFPs, evaluating bids and awarding contracts – and those processes can be challenging. This white paper discusses how adopting a cooperative model of procuring construction services – especially for repair, remodel and replacement projects – can make construction procurement easier, faster and more affordable.

South Africa: UCT Signs Historic Agreement to Insource Services

Source: All Africa, October 29, 2015

The University of Cape Town (UCT) signed an historic agreement with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Wednesday to insource six of its outsourced services. Cleaning of residences (Metro), cleaning of university buildings (Supercare), catering in student residences (C3), grounds and gardening services (Turfworks), campus protection services (G4S) and student and staff transport services (Sibanye) will now be insourced after the current (in brackets) lease agreements expire. This follows weeks of protests around student fee increases, which resulted in a 0% deal announced by President Jacob Zuma last Friday. UCT student also protested about unfair working conditions, pushing for the insourcing of these services. UCT vice chancellor Max Price and Nehawu chairperson Mzomhle Bixa said in a joint statement on Thursday that the services will be insourced as each of the contracts terminates.

Settlement with union over private-sector contracts could cost millions

Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, October 19, 2015

McCartney said the state is reviewing at least 506 contracts across 12 state departments, which hire private workers to do everything from highway groundskeeping to air conditioning maintenance, as it decides how many of those jobs will be handled by state workers instead. … The private contracts that could end and be replaced by state employees in the next few years are for work such as janitorial, plumbing, tree trimming, auto repair, painting, carpentry and electrical. … The state’s decision to transition at least 99 of the 506 contracts currently filled by private workers means departments will have to ask lawmakers for money to fund the positions. The state will also need to recruit and hire people for those new jobs. Most of the affected jobs are blue-collar positions represented by UPW, which as of last year represented about 4,959 blue collar state employees, nearly 10 percent of the state government workforce.

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Taxpayers will pay more as state phases out some private contractors
Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, October 6, 2015

The state is phasing out the use of private contractors for highway landscaping and other maintenance work, costing taxpayers more money and settling two long-time class-action grievances filed by one of the state’s most powerful unions, the United Public Workers. Across Hawaii, landscape workers who are employed by private contractors do routine maintenance of state highway medians and shoulders. The UPW alleged the state unlawfully privatized services that were historically performed by state workers who were unionized employees. … The settlement means state departments will have to create new jobs such as groundskeepers and taxpayers will pay their salaries along with health and retirement benefits.  Mulkern said state workers are not as productive as private sector employees, mostly because they have far more annual vacation days (21), holidays (13; 14 in election years) and sick days (21) compared to the private sector. … It’s unclear how many new state jobs will be created but they range from groundskeepers statewide who clean and trim the grass along highways to those who perform air conditioning maintenance.  The state could not provide an estimate of how many contracts are affected, how many new state positions might need to be created and how much money that could cost taxpayers.