Category Archives: Maintenance

School official claims auto repair shop overcharged MCSD

Source: WRBL, July 1, 2015

Columbus Police say they are conducting an investigation to see if fraud was committed after someone from the school district contacted them. The investigation involves allegations that an auto repair shop overcharged the Muscogee County School District by more than $12,000. News 3’s Sarah Panko talked to the Columbus lawyer who says he brought these concerns to the school district months ago. Last August, Charlie Miller says his client came to him with concerns over a school bus air conditioning bid with the school district. …. Millers goes on to say that he filed a request for invoices and found that Moseley Auto Repair billed the district for more than the 12% parts mark-up that they agreed on in the bid. In some cases, Miller says he saw a mark-up of more than 800% on one item. ….

Why the federal government still sometimes doesn’t obey its own minimum wage laws

Source: Lydia DePillis, Washington Post, Wonkblog, April 10, 2015

….Contractors on federal land are supposed to make a bit more than that — but over the years, the laws that require it have been sparsely enforced and widely violated. And loopholes make sure fewer workers are covered in the first place. Take Glover. Groundskeepers are covered by the Service Contract Act, which dictates that they be paid a “prevailing wage” set by the Department of Labor. In D.C., the wage for groundskeepers is $13.07 — which would make a big difference to Glover, who lives on a cot in his sister’s basement in Maryland because he can’t afford his own place. … The Smithsonian Institution, which runs the zoo, says that Service Contract Act doesn’t cover him. Spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson says the Friends of the National Zoo, a member-supported nonprofit that employs all the maintenance and concessions workers, isn’t primarily concerned with providing services covered by the Act, so the law shouldn’t apply to the whole contract….. In its complaint, Good Jobs Nation says in total the violations have deprived 65 workers of $1,578,700 in wages at three workplaces over the two years the statute covers. Their findings illustrate the difficulty the federal government has had in enforcing its own laws since they were passed decades ago….

Memphis Campus Temps Outwit Scheme to Privatize Their Social Security

Source: Steve Payne and Jeffrey Lichtenstein, Labor Notes, January 8, 2015

Though we don’t have a union contract, workers at the University of Memphis last month took quick action and backed management off its plan to privatize our Social Security—for now, anyway. The university made the announcement December 12: on just a week’s notice, almost 2,000 temporary workers, including one of the authors of this article, would be laid off. We could reapply in hopes of getting our jobs back. The affected workers included many long-term temps, such as people working as data and lab techs, custodians and groundskeepers, and lots of adjunct faculty. …. Public employees are denied our right to bargain in Tennessee, but that hasn’t stopped us from organizing. … The mass layoff was part of a new temporary employee policy. If rehired, we would be no longer participate in Social Security. Instead, we would be enrolled in a “FICA alternative plan.” ….. It turns out that Congress created this type of plan for public employers in 1990, overturning previous regulations that had ensured that public employees could not be exempted from Social Security. These FICA alternative plans can only affect temporary seasonal workers in new positions, which is why the university had to fire and rehire us. They’re used by various public entities, particularly in the South….

Union disputes custodial outsourcing at School District of Lancaster

Source: Kara Newhouse, Lancaster Online, December 15, 2014

Custodial and grounds employees at the School District of Lancaster are challenging the school board’s decision to outsource their jobs starting in January. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents the district’s support staff, voted on Dec. 5 to reject the terms of the district’s outsourcing plan, according to an AFSCME official. The union also filed a grievance that disputes the outsourcing decision based on terms in the employee contract that expires in June 2016. The city school board voted in November to outsource 94 custodial and grounds positions to GCA Services Group, of Ohio. The $9.7 million contract begins Jan. 1, 2015 and ends June 30, 2016….
City school custodians outsourced; jobs offered at contracted company
Source: Kara Newhouse, Lancaster Online, November 18, 2014

School District of Lancaster custodians will keep their current wages if they move to an contracted company, according to district officials. The school board voted Tuesday night to outsource 94 custodial and grounds positions to GCA Services Group, of Ohio. The $9.7 million contract begins Jan. 1, 2015 and ends June 30, 2016. ….The savings primarily come from the elimination of the pension costs. Support staff at public schools in Pennsylvania get retirement benefits through the Public School Employee Retirement System. ….

SDL custodians in limbo amid outsourcing negotiations
Source: Kara Newhouse, Lancaster Online, October 20, 2014

In June, the SDL board approved a 2014-15 budget that relies on $500,000 in savings from outsourcing 94 custodial and grounds crew members. It was one of several measures taken to fill a $7.7-million deficit. But two months into the school year, the board still hasn’t approved an outsourcing contract — leaving workers in employment limbo. … To move forward with outsourcing, the district must prove that it would save money and provide the same or higher level of service, said Michael Fox, a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents SDL support staff.

SDL board plans to outsource custodians, raise taxes
Source: Kara Newhouse, Lancaster Online, May 20, 2014

The School District of Lancaster board on Tuesday approved a proposed final budget that would outsource 100 custodial and grounds positions, among other cuts. … The outsourcing of custodial and grounds crews is projected to save the district $500,000, primarily from reduced pension and health care costs, according to Chief Financial and Operations Officer Matthew Przywara. The board previously directed administrators to explore outsourcing support staff positions through attrition, which requires union approval….

SDL execs, employees clash over outsourcing
Source: Kara Newhouse, Lancaster Online, April 15, 2014

School District of Lancaster officials and support staff members played a game of “he said, she said” over possible outsourcing at a board meeting on Tuesday. Board president Stacey Marten and Superintendent Pedro Rivera stressed that the board is considering outsourcing only vacant positions, but support staff who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said they were told the district intended to outsource all positions. The school board previously directed administrators to meet with AFSCME representatives to discuss outsourcing vacant positions. That meeting occurred March 27. AFSCME’s district council director Michael Fox said at the board meeting Tuesday that AFSCME agreed to take to its members a proposal to outsource vacant custodial, maintenance and health room technician jobs if no other outsourcing would be considered….

Oklahoma City school district may save $1.48 million by terminating facilities management contract

Source: Tim Willert, Daily Oklahoman, September 16, 2014

Oklahoma City Public Schools, beset by building maintenance problems, is cutting ties with its facilities management company, a move expected to save the district nearly $1.5 million to spend on hiring workers and upgrading buildings. The school board voted unanimously Monday night to terminate the district’s management services agreement with Sodexo Operations after the district’s Chief Operating Officer Rod McKinley told members he has nine people maintaining 5,000 air conditioning and heating systems worth $80 million. … The district paid Sodexo $1.48 million annually for seven people to manage district facilities, money McKinley said could be better spent on maintaining equipment and upgrading facilities. … McKinley pointed out that in addition to the nine maintenance workers, the district has just three electricians and two carpenters. Under his facilities maintenance transition plan, building managers would be responsible for tracking work orders, not principals….

Opinion: DOT’s math on privatization adds up to ‘no deal’

Source: Ledger-Enquirer, September 22, 2014

….This much is unarguable: If “privatizing,” as the term has been coined, costs more than the government function cost taxpayers in the first place, then it’s a bad idea no matter what function we’re talking about. That, apparently, is the case with the Georgia Department of Transportation — or rather, would have been the case if a DOT committee hadn’t done its homework. The department was considering a contract for janitorial and other services at highway welcome centers and rest areas. The DOT sent out a request for proposals, and received two bids, one for $37.7 million and the other for $36.5 million. Except that, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Transportation Board’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Committee determined that the DOT could employ people to do the same work for $27.8 million….

Grand Canyon Park Gets Creative to Attract Bids on Concessions Contract

Source: Charles S. Clark,, September 24, 2014

…The problem: Xanterra over the decades has invested up to $200 million in improvements to its hotel, gift shops and restaurants around the canyon’s South Rim, money it would be entitled to collect should the government yank its concession contracts. The chances of finding a competing concessions contractor willing to assume that debt to Xanterra are considered slim. So in August, the Park Service announced a new approach. It would solicit a major concessions contract—worth more than $1 billion in potential revenue over 15 years—for the third time since 2013, the first private bids that came in having been deemed inadequate….The funds borrowed from other parks’ accounts will be repaid before the expiration of the new contract, which will kick in as of February 2015, Oltrogge added….
Lucrative Grand Canyon Contract up for Bid Again
Source: Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press, August 19, 2014

A lucrative contract to operate some of the most iconic lodging and food locations at the Grand Canyon has been reopened for bidding in a process that will bring changes affecting the millions of people who visit the landmark each year. The contract first went out for bid a year ago. But Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the park didn’t receive any bids adhering to the conditions called for in the 15-year pact. The new contract requires that the winning bidder operate food trucks on the South Rim and expand patio dining at the historic El Tovar lodge to accommodate crowds during the busy summer months. It also calls on the winning bidder to demolish six outdated Maswik South lodge units and replace them with 90 standard rooms and 30 rooms with kitchenettes by 2017. In addition, rooms at the rustic Bright Angel lodge must be upgraded. Other requirements include eliminating on-site laundry services to conserve water, and instituting a lottery system for the cabins and dorms at Phantom Ranch that sits at the bottom of the canyon and can be reached only by mule, foot or rafting the Colorado River. Bids are due in October, with the contract to be awarded in January, potentially bringing in nearly $1 billion in gross revenue over the next 15 years for the winning vendor….Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts recently was awarded another 15-year contract that includes some services previously provided by Xanterra. That contract begins in January for food and retail services at Grand Canyon Village, Yavapai Lodge and Desert View, a public laundry facility, showers and campground. It is worth about $30 million a year….

The privatization of public campground management

Source: Cally Carswell, High Country News, July 18, 2014

All the info you need to decide whether you love or hate that the Forest Service uses concessionaires…

If you camp at a U.S. Forest Service campground this summer, you’ll probably hand your fee directly to a host employed by a private company, rather than stuffing it into a little brown box on the honor system or giving it to a retiree volunteering for the Forest Service. That’s because the majority of the agency’s campgrounds are now managed by for-profit companies called “concessionaires.”… For a more in-depth explanation of how the program works, read Concessionaire Campgrounds: An Explainer. We analyzed fees at campgrounds in Colorado, which makes for an interesting case study because, though most of the state’s campgrounds – 268 of the 336 in our analysis – are under private management, one of its national forests has no concessionaires, and publicly managed campgrounds and sprinkled throughout the rest. We excluded group campgrounds from our analysis, and for consistency, looked only at basic tent sites without electrical hookups. …

In or Out? The Outsourcing Conundrum

Source: Dave Lubach, Facility Maintenance Decisions, October 2013

Maintenance and engineering managers often view outsourcing as a potential solution to mounting workloads in many institutional and commercial facilities. But while the controversial strategy can address these issues, managers should not make the decision to outsource a task or project lightly. Paul Adjan, facility manager with the Glynn County Airport Commission in Brunswick, Ga., tries to avoid outsourcing when possible. What are his concerns?

– Loss of control. Retain control of key decisions.
– Wasted time. Avoid time spent explaining building systems to vendors when in-house technicians probably know them better.
– Quick fixes. Some contractors tend to work quickly and gloss over important details essential for the safety of staff and occupants.
– High initial costs. Avoid proposals that could cost more than handling the work in-house.

Adjan’s concerns are valid, but I would add one more concern to the list: life-cycle considerations….

Outsourcing Watch

Source: Washington State Employee, Vol. 42 no. 6, August 2014

When the University of Washington outsourced maintenance work after $280 million in renovations at Husky Stadium, members of the union’s UW Skilled Trades Bargaining Unit blew the whistle. Had it not been for their alertness, the outsourcing that ignored their expertise and took their work might have gone on out of sight, out of mind. The union’s unfair labor practice complaint over the outsourcing was scheduled for a hearing this month. The Husky Stadium incident shows how Federation members can make a difference as the eyes and ears to detect outsourcing.That’s why the WFSE/AFSCME Skilled Labor and Trades Committee has started a new project to detect often-unseen outsourcing.It’s called “Outsourcing Watch.” When you detect outsourcing, use the form on this page or online and send us the straight scoop. And take photos of outsourcing. Those real-time photos will help in court and other venues.We need “Outsourcing Watch” now more than ever…. UW Local 1488 President Paula Lukaszek and her colleagues in the Skilled Trades Bargaining Unit were locked out from maintenance work at the renovated Husky Stadium. Members detected outsourcing of their work, blew the whistle and with the union’s help have mounted a challenge that goes to hearing this month. …