Category Archives: Custodial

Michigan district to privatize school bus service

Source: Kelly Roher, School Bus Fleet, May 8, 2013

Bus service for Walled Lake Consolidated School District (WLCSD) will be provided by contractor Dean Transportation starting with the upcoming school year. In a letter to district parents and staff last week, Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Gutman wrote that the district has been in negotiations with the Walled Lake Transportation Association since last August and has conducted 13 sessions. Gutman said that “good faith bargaining” with the association did not result in an agreement, but every facet of the transportation budget was “thoroughly researched,” and the district’s administration recommended Dean Transportation to provide transportation services beginning with the 2013-14 school year. The district’s board of education voted 7-0 to accept the recommendation and to begin the transition process….
Walled Lake may privatize school bus service, drivers concerned
Source: Megan Semeraz, Oakland Press, April 16, 2013

With a projected $10 million deficit for next year, administrators at Walled Lake Schools are considering privatization of the school bus services. … Ridge said that three years ago, the district looked at privatizing transportation, but ultimately threw out the idea after the department agreed to take a $5 million cut over a three-year period. In the agreement, some of the cuts the 120 transportation employees took included a 10 percent pay cut, loss of six holiday and vacation days, paying 20 percent more in insurance premiums and paying 100 percent of insurance increases over the three-year period. The drivers are not full-time employees and, Ridge says, the district has said they will never be — no matter how many hours they work. Ridge said the average bus driver makes $18,000 a year, but some make around $11,000….

…The district has already privatized the school custodial services and, Ridge said, the school board just approved a 2 percent pay raise for those private custodial workers….

…The company would charge $800,000 per year for new school buses, meaning taxpayer money would be used to purchase buses for a private company….

…Private bus companies, such as Durham School Services, have faced criticism for incidents that could have been potentially dangerous for students. Last September, a contracted Durham employee for Rochester Community Schools was arrested for retail fraud after attempting to steal $543 in clothing from Parisian at The Village of Rochester Hills. The driver, who parked the school bus outside the store, had previously been arrested on a similar charge. On Friday, WXYZ-TV Channel 7 reported that a driver dropped off a group of Northville middle school students at an undesignated stop — the side of Six Mile Road — after trying to get some of the students to sit down. Northville Public Schools privatized its transportation in July 2011….

MARTA union predicts bumpy road for privatization

Source: Steve Visser, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 7, 2013

But a Columbia University economist, hired by the Amalgamated Transit Union, contends the KPMG study that recommended that MARTA explore privatizing those areas is a severely flawed guidebook… MARTA officials contend that the KPMG management audit is their “road map” to stabilizing the authority’s finances. They have acknowledged the upfront costs to privatizing certain services may be more costly in the start-up years and some KPMG areas might not result in savings. Still, Parker’s plan to be running a surplus within five years closely tracks the KPMG recommendations. … But Sclar contended the increased costs often continue because the transit agency has to add bureaucrats to manage its contracts with private companies and that contracts ultimately often cost the public more in terms of worse service and deferred maintenance. He said even the KPMG study found that MARTA’s back office staff performed better than Denver transit system, which outsourced 40 percent of its employees….
With privatization, 800 MARTA jobs could be cut
Source: Steve Visser, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 13, 2013

MARTA privatization plans might cut nearly 800 jobs from the system, although transit officials are downplaying that number, which would be nearly 20 percent of the workforce.General Manager Keith Parker, an advocate of judicious privatization, acknowledged a management audit says the transit authority might eliminate nearly that number by outsourcing functions such as cleaning and para-transit service over five years, but he believes many of those people might transfer to whatever private company that will be performing the service…Union officials and other analysts, however, contend privatization usually mean forcing down wages and benefits and cutting jobs because private companies need to perform the same work at a lower cost while making a profit….

Fight over Atlanta mass transit raises race issues
Source: Ray Henry, Associated Press, February 17, 2013

A proposal to change the power structure of metro Atlanta’s mass transit system raises the complicated politics of race in Georgia…. His bill, even if unintentionally, has political consequences that unfold along race lines. It would keep MARTA’s board at 11 voting members but change who appoints some of them….Others aspects of Jacobs’ plan would privatize back-office support functions to save money, put limits on MARTA’s debt and eliminate a defined-benefit pension system for new unionized workers. In return, Jacobs’ plan would extend a temporary suspension of a rule forcing MARTA to spend half of its revenues on its capital budget — a restriction that is unique in state government….

Private operations for MARTA?
Source: Moderated by Tom Sabulis, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Forward blog, September 24, 2012

Following the failed transportation tax referendum — and with a major audit of MARTA about to become public — one local leader says the transit system requires a transformation through funding and governance. Privatization is not a panacea, but should be carefully explored. Another expert writes flatly that MARTA went wrong favoring rail over buses, and privatization would save $400 million.

MARTA Releases Draft Management and Operations Review
Source: MARTA, Press Release, September 24, 2012
…The draft report detailed 12 operational areas that could be “sourced” by hiring third-party firms to perform specific functions, internally or externally. Those areas include payroll, computer support, customer service, recruiting, cleaning services and Mobility for paratransit customers….

Schools Evaluate Whether to Privatize Support Services

Source: Sean Cavanagh, Education Week, April 24, 2013

Districts’ decisions about whether to contract out services or keep them in-house are influenced by myriad and often competing factors. …

…School districts face constant pressure to provide reliable support services in areas like transportation, student meals, and janitorial work — and do it as cheaply as possible. That leaves them with a decision to make: Should they use their own employees to perform those duties, or hire outside contractors who may be able to do the job for less?

In some cases, districts find that they can reduce expenses, especially in salary and benefits, or secure specialized services that would be hard to provide in-house, by seeking bids and selecting private companies to do the work.

In other circumstances, districts may find that outside businesses’ costs are too high, and that their ability to provide the exact services needed are lacking, so they choose to have the work done by the people already on the payroll….

District: Lake Orion Community School District, a 7,600-student system north of Detroit

Context: The district has struggled financially as the local economy has sagged; the tax base has dropped significantly from seven years ago. The district, which has a $79 million general fund, had an operating deficit in fiscal 2011 of $1.8 million, said John Fitzgerald, an assistant superintendent.

Decision: The school board put out a request for proposals for a three-year contract to take over custodial services. Five bidders submitted proposals, including the union representing the workers, AFSCME, which offered concessions, including a reduction in wages. DM Burr, based in Flint, Mich., won the contract. Its bid was not the lowest, but the school board regarded the company as “the best fit,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

Outcome: About 50 district employees lost their jobs. Those workers were offered severance packages and were invited to apply for jobs with the outside contractor, at a lower salary; some were rehired. The district expects to save more than $3.5 million on salaries, benefits, and other costs over the course of a three-year contract. The district has been “very satisfied” with the services provided by the company, Mr. Fitzgerald said.

District: Kent City Community School District, a 1,400-student system north of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Context: The district, with a $12 million general fund, has been forced to make repeated budget cuts over the years, laying off staff and privatizing services. The school system has made especially large cuts over the past four or five years, including layoffs of employees.

Decision: The school board voted two years ago to end its contract for food service with a private company, Chartwells School Dining Services, reasoning that the school system could save money by cutting off the fees it was paying and bringing those services in-house.

Outcome: The district expects to at least break even or turn a profit this year, said Superintendent Mike Weiler. It uses the same number of employees — 15 to 17 — and it has not increased the prices of meals. Some of the savings have come from the district’s having more flexibility in purchasing than it had through the private company, the superintendent said.

Perspective: The decision to move services back in-house amounts to a “small victory” in driving down costs, Mr. Weiler said. “It shows it can be done.When you take the for-profit motive out, that’s probably 80 percent” of where savings come from, he said. …

Ohio State hires outside companies to clean buildings

Source: Ally Marotti, Lantern, April 22, 2013

Lajuan Foster has spent almost every day from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the past nine months cleaning the 18th Avenue Library….But Foster doesn’t work for Ohio State. She works for the janitorial services at Goodwill — a branch of the same company that owns thrift stores….Goodwill is one of four companies to which OSU awarded contracts last fall. The contracts, which were effective Nov. 5, replaced agreements that expired June 30, said Lindsay Komlanc, spokeswoman for Administration and Planning, in an email…. Goodwill’s contract is for $500,000 annually, and it cleans about nine buildings, including the 18th Avenue Library, Independence Hall, the Ice Rink and Ohio Stadium. The other contracted companies include Olympus, which is based in New Jersey, The King’s, which has a headquarters in St. Louis and SBM Management Services, which has a location in Blue Ash, Ohio. None of the four companies returned request for comment Monday. OSU pays Olympus $2.7 million annually to clean about 46 buildings, including Hopkins Hall, Weigel Hall and the Wexner Medical Center. The Kings is paid $1.5 million annually to clean about 15 buildings including Jennings Hall, the Psychology Building and Campbell Hall. SMB is paid $900,000 annually to clean about 36 buildings including the hangars at OSU’s University Airport and Maintenance Building, the Veterinary Hospital and Blankenship Hall….

Nampa School Board votes to outsource custodian contracts; more than 80 employees affected

Source: Eric Fink, KIVI, April 17, 2013

After more than 90 minutes of testimony from some of the districts 83 custodians, the Nampa School Board voted 3-2 in favor of outsourcing custodian and classified staff contracts Tuesday night. The cash-strapped school district maintains this cost-cutting move saves more than $300,000, but several custodians say this decision will cripple families. Many custodians fear not only losing their jobs come June, but also seeing their health insurance and retirement benefits disappear….According to the district, the classified staff section of its budget is a prime area to cut because there has been substantial turnover in this department over the last several years. GCA custodial will manage Nampa Schools custodial services starting in July. The district’s current custodians can reapply for their positions this summer, but they are not guaranteed jobs….

School board to spend $26,000 more for custodial services as matter of ‘safety’

Source: Karen Sells, Herald & Tribune, April 9, 2013

Criminal background checks conducted annually on employees as opposed to only at the hire date are worth more than $25,000 to Washington County Board of Education members, who awarded the custodial contract to SSC Service Solutions primarily for that reason. During their April 4 meeting, school board members discussed the three bids received. …During a recent meeting of the Bid Review Committee, Chad Williams’ motion to award the contract to the low bidder and current custodial company, Facilico, did not receive a second. A motion was then made to bring the issue to the full board for a decision. Keith Ervin made a motion to award the contract to Rite Way Service for $682,000 based on it having a larger number of employees than Facilico….

…Ganger agreed there were problems with Facilico in the beginning. “I remember bidding (the contract), but we kept them,” he said. “We bid it out again and went with another company, and got sued by Facilico.” The board wasn’t happy with the performance two or three years ago, but that has changed, Ganger said. “When threatened (by the possibility of losing the contract), they straightened up,” he said. …

Bad Enterprise Services contracting out bill moves

Source: Tim Welch, WFSE Hotline, April 5, 2013

The bad bill (SSB 5891) expanding contacting out of Federation jobs in the Department of Enterprise Services in the areas of maintenance, skilled labor and trades and custodial passed the Senate early Friday afternoon on a vote of 25-23.

An amendment that would have removed the bad sections about DES was defeated. The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa of the 11th Dist. and Sen. Steve Conway of the 29th Dist.

University may accept proposals regarding outsourcing, following long history since 1990s

Source: Andrew Messamore, Daily Texan, February 21, 2013

If the University accepts proposals to outsource on-campus dining, parking and housing services, it would be the latest step in a long history of outsourcing at UT stretching back through the early 1990s…. The committee claims that by reorganizing the University’s administrative functions, assets and commercialization practices, the University could save $490 million in the next decade…. Such a move would not be unprecedented, Hegarty said. Unlike Texas A&M University, which outsourced 1,647 maintenance, landscaping and dining service jobs for the first time last year, UT has already integrated significant outsourcing in its maintenance, landscaping and custodial jobs….

…Outsourced services at UT range from University email accounts managed by Google to food services run by Compass Group USA at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center… Recently, the University outsourced custodial services at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus to SSC Service Solutions…

…In 1990, UT’s Division of Recreational Sports outsourced custodial jobs through Royal Kim Maintenance, which employs between 10 and 12 contractors seasonally at UT. Recently, RecSports also began outsourcing custodial and landscape services as well as cardio equipment repair, employing an additional five to six contractors… In the following year, 1991, the University Union began outsourcing its cafeteria services, bringing in businesses like Taco Bell and Wendy’s to provide concessions.

Texas Athletics started outsourcing labor for dining previously employed by the University at all athletic events in 1994 through Marriott Management Services, which was bought by Sodexo in 1998. As detailed in a report last spring by The Daily Texan, the French-based Sodexo has been accused of numerous worker rights and human rights violations, some in the United States. Following a 2010 Human Rights Watch report on Sodexo’s alleged labor practices, the company lost 11 contracts with universities and athletic programs in 2011. Sodexo netted $3 million in profits for Texas Athletics in 2011….In 2005 the University outsourced its Central Receiving and Delivery division to MagRabbit. Central Receiving at that time managed all deliveries on campus from suppliers of office and workplace supplies….

Van Dyke votes to outsource janitor jobs

Source: Mitch Hotts, Macomb Daily, March 25, 2013

The Van Dyke Board of Education on Monday night voted unanimously to outsource its custodial services to a private company in a move to save about $1.8 million over the next three years as the district works to reduce its budget deficit.

The move will result in the layoffs of about 23 custodians in Van Dyke Public Schools in south Warren, although they can apply to be interviewed by the new company.

Enviro-Clean, a Holland, Mich.-based janitorial firm, was awarded the three-year contract to clean all of the district’s school buildings. In its bid, the company said it would charge $859,900 in the first year, and $793,759 in the second and third years, according to school documents. …

Wayne County Nursing Home Jobs in Jeopardy

Source: Ashley Zilka,, March 20, 2013

The Wayne County board supervisors voted and now more than 70 nursing home jobs are on the line. Certain departments in the facility will be contracted by a private company, starting July 1. 74 Wayne County nursing home employees heard the bad news Tuesday night. Three departments will be outsourced to the private company, Sodexo Senior Living. Meaning those employees could lose their jobs…

….House keeping, food service and building maintenance are the services that are affected. The 74 employees can reapply for their jobs but there’s no guarantee they will be rehired. According to union president, employees will be paid $3 less an hour than the average $14 they are currently making. …