WBEZ | janitors http://www.wbez.org/tags/janitors Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Aramark, CPS change plan to cut school janitors http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/2979169728_730927ae16_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today was supposed to be the last day of work for 468 janitors in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>But Aramark, the private contractor now overseeing the management of custodians in CPS, is changing that plan <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">after complaints about cleanliness</a> from principals, parents and teachers.</p><p>The union representing privately employed janitors in CPS said 178 janitors will keep their jobs and the remaining 290 will work for another month. Aramark spokesperson Karen Cutler confirmed those numbers and said they are working closely with the union and CPS to make sure schools have &quot;appropriate custodial staffing levels.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;We would prefer to see no layoffs anywhere and see everybody have good paying, full-time jobs,&rdquo; said Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1.&nbsp; &ldquo;But again, we do think with the technology Aramark&rsquo;s brought in and the readjustment on the number of janitors, we think that we will be able to maintain a good level of cleanliness in the schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Balanoff said they are working to find jobs for the 290 janitors being laid off at the end of October.<br /><br />CPS has had privatized cleaning services for more than a decade, but last February, the board <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes">voted to award two contracts worth a total $340 million</a> to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. The two companies would manage all 2,500 janitors in the school system, even though the janitors remain employed by subcontractors, like <a href="http://www.wecleaninc.com/">WeClean Inc.</a> and Total Facilities, or by the Board of Education directly.</p><p>Balanoff said the change allows 83 of the longest-serving janitors employed by private subcontractors to keep their jobs. Another 95 will be hired directly as Aramark employees for at least the next 10 months.</p><p>The changes do not impact 825 janitors employed directly by the Board of Education. Those janitors are represented by SEIU Local 73. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to other schools in light of the pending layoffs.</p><p>CPS officials did not immediately comment. It is not clear how much the move may cost and who will foot the bill, the district or Aramark.</p><p>At <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-takes-cleanliness-controversy-110851">last week&rsquo;s Board of Education meeting</a>, district Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said Aramark was &ldquo;flooding the zone&rdquo; to fix any issues related to school cleanliness.</p></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870 School board takes on cleanliness controversy http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-takes-cleanliness-controversy-110851 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/10348248095_15797234cf_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The controversy over cleanliness in Chicago Public Schools seems to be hitting a nerve with members of the Chicago Board of Education.</p><p>It could have been fiery comments from the head of the principals association, or a disturbing account from a primary school teacher, read by a parent during public participation at Wednesday&rsquo;s monthly meeting. It claimed vomit was left to sit on her floor for 30 minutes before it was cleaned up and then crusted into her rug over the weekend.</p><p>The parent who read the comment, Jennie Biggs, has three children at Sheridan Elementary in Bridgeport and is also part of a parent group called Raise Your Hand. That group released the results of an informal survey they did over the last week, which got 162 responses across 60 schools.</p><p>The complaints come on the heels of similar surveys and complaints from principals and teachers that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">WBEZ first reported earlier this month</a>.</p><p>Board member Andrea Zopp said CPS and the two private companies now overseeing the management of custodians should take a close look at the parent&rsquo;s survey.</p><p>&ldquo;And in particular, look at the some of the comments,&rdquo; Zopp said. &ldquo;You can take (them) with a grain of salt, but there are some very disturbing things in there sent from people who apparently are on the ground.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS has had privatized cleaning services for more than a decade, but last February, the Board voted to award two contracts worth a total $340 million to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC to manage all 2,500 janitors in the school system.</p><p>At the time of that vote, CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said move would make principals&rsquo; lives easier, explaining that the companies would be <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes">like &ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;getting more supplies and cleaning up spills before principals could even hang up the phone.</p><p>On Wednesday, Cawley defended the move to privatize the management of custodians.</p><p>&ldquo;We think the vast, vast majority of our schools are as clean or cleaner than they&rsquo;ve been in the past,&rdquo; Cawley said Wednesday. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s how they started the school year and that&rsquo;s how they&rsquo;re operating now.&rdquo;</p><p>And he insisted the district is saving money. &ldquo;But never, ever, would we compromise the safety or cleanliness of our schools to accomplish those savings,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>Still, Board members had a lot of questions about how the new system is supposed to work.</p><p>&ldquo;So as a principal, three or four teachers come to me on a particular morning, my room is not clean, this is not working right, &hellip; the principal wants to resolve the issue, what&rsquo;s the next step?&rdquo; asked Carlos Azcoitia, one of the board members who served as a principal for 9 years.</p><p>Cawley said they can call a new hotline number or the cell phone of their Aramark custodial manager.</p><p>But Clarice Berry, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said that makes no sense.</p><p>&ldquo;We do not need, we do not want middle managers between the principals and the staff assigned to their schools,&rdquo; Berry said. She also called out Azcoitia and the other former principal on the board, Mahalia Hines, for allowing this to happen.</p><p>But later in the meeting, Hines said the old system didn&rsquo;t work either.</p><p>&ldquo;If [janitors] didn&rsquo;t clean or didn&rsquo;t do their work, I had little or no control over that, because they were with the union and you had to go through a long process, and either they would out wait me or they&rsquo;d die it out,&rdquo; Hines said.</p><p>Cawley said both companies are working at their own expense to fix the problems.</p><p>Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler confirmed they&rsquo;ve added extra support above and beyond the terms of the contract.</p><p>&ldquo;We have been meeting with every principal in the district &ndash; over 300 to date &ndash;&nbsp;to address their concerns, as well as review our program, which we have in place at hundreds of school districts across the country,&rdquo; Cutler wrote in an e-mail to WBEZ. &ldquo;We brought in additional managers (at our expense) to assist with the transition and have been training all CPS custodial staff on new equipment, using more efficient, environmentally friendly cleaning techniques.&rdquo;</p><p>One question that did not get answered at Wednesday&rsquo;s meeting is what will happen when additional layoffs go into effect.</p><p>As it stands right now, 468 fewer janitors will be in the schools come Tuesday. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 08:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-takes-cleanliness-controversy-110851 Schools CEO: privatizing janitorial services not 'as smooth as we would like' http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-ceo-privatizing-janitorial-services-not-smooth-we-would-110799 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo bbb at city club.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted Monday that turning over management of school janitors to two private companies hasn&rsquo;t been going very well.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously it has not been as smooth as we would like,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;We have met with principals. We continue to do so and I think in a very short time, you will see a change.&rdquo;</p><p>In February, the Chicago Board of Education awarded two contracts, worth a total of $340 million, to two private companies, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. These two contracts combined make it one of the largest privatization moves of any school district across the country. Under the agreements, SodexoMAGIC would oversee 33 schools, while Aramark would oversee the remaining 500-some district-run schools.</p><p>CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley sold the idea to board members as making schools cleaner with new equipment, such as &ldquo;zamboni-like&rdquo; floor cleaning machines, and making principals&rsquo; lives easier, with <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/chicago-further-privatizes" target="_blank">&ldquo;Jimmy John&rsquo;s-like&rdquo; customer service</a> when supplies run low.</p><p>But so far, the outsourcing seems to have led to dirty schools, property damage, poor communication and janitors being laid off. Those complaints came to light in a survey of more than 230 principals conducted by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.</p><p>WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767" target="_blank">first reported the story</a> early last week.</p><p>On Friday, 475 janitors officially received layoff notices. Byrd-Bennett says the district is not responsible for those cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not laying anybody off,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s up to the contractors that we&rsquo;ve contracted with. They are going to come up with a system for us that will get the work done.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS employs 825 custodian positions that are covered by SEIU Local 73 and none of those positions are being cut, according to district officials. However, many of those board-funded janitors have been reassigned to cover other schools as a result of the layoffs.</p><p>District officials continue to insist that schools are not dirty and that the private contracts with Aramark and SodexoMAGIC are saving them money.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-ceo-privatizing-janitorial-services-not-smooth-we-would-110799 Custodial contract causing problems at start of school year http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s one of those jobs that you don&rsquo;t really notice, until it&rsquo;s not done.</p><p>Dave Belanger knows firsthand. He once worked as a part-time, fill-in janitor for extra income early in his teaching career.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve scrubbed toilets and washed bathrooms and cleaned classrooms and I know if you don&rsquo;t keep on top of that every single day, it just quadruples,&quot; Belanger said. &ldquo;A school that could start out clean on Monday by Friday, if things haven&rsquo;t been done, is really almost a pig sty.&rdquo;<br /><br />Dave Belanger is now the principal of Hanson Park Elementary School in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood on the city&rsquo;s Northwest side. He said, this year, the deep clean that usually takes place in schools over the summer was &ldquo;the scariest and least efficient&rdquo; process he has seen over the 14 years he&rsquo;s worked for CPS.<br /><br />&ldquo;Many teachers spent a half a day to a day, last week, before kids came in, scrubbing their classrooms, tops of bookcases, window sills, walls, baseboards, things that would normally be cleaned were not cleaned,&rdquo; Belanger said.<br /><br />Belanger is just one of more than 230 principals recently surveyed by the Administrators Alliance for Proven Policy and Legislation in Education, or AAPPLE, a member-driven arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The results reveal problems across Chicago Public Schools&mdash;dirty classrooms, damaged materials, theft and an overall lack of communication.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Shifting control of custodians</strong></span></p><p>How CPS got to this point is complicated. For years, custodians fell under the oversight of each school&rsquo;s building engineer. That changed a few years ago, when budget officials centralized the building engineers and put custodians under principals. CPS had previously subcontracted with private cleaning services, like We Clean and Total Facilities.<br /><br />Then this past spring, the Chicago Board of Education awarded a $260 million contract to a company called Aramark to oversee nearly all 2,400-plus janitors in the school system. Another private company&mdash;SodexoMAGIC&mdash;was awarded an $80 million contract to oversee 33 schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Under the contract, private custodial manaagers have been assigned to oversee groups of 15 to 20 schools, according to Leslie Norgren, the district&rsquo;s director of asset management.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:13.5pt;margin-left: 0in;line-height:16.5pt;vertical-align:baseline">At the board meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley talked up the privatization deal to board members, saying Aramark and SodexoMAGIC would be &ldquo;like Jimmy John&rsquo;s,&rdquo; so when a principal called with a need for say, paper towels, &ldquo;the guy is showing up with more paper towels before the principal hangs up the phone.&rdquo;<span style="font-size:10.5pt; font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:red"><o:p></o:p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/137054470&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></span></p><p>The private companies now oversee subcontractors that employ thousands of custodians as well as 825 board-funded custodians that are unionized and covered under a contract negotiated by the Service Employees International Union Local 73. SEIU Local 73 did not respond to requests for comment about how the change to Aramark has affected its members.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Communication problems and more &#39;red tape&#39;</strong></span><br /><br />District officials promised the new contract would not only save money, but would also lead to cleaner schools and give principals more time to focus on teaching and learning.<br /><br />But that hasn&rsquo;t happened. Teresa Chrobak- Prince, principal of Hearst Elementary on the Southwest Side, said because &ldquo;nobody knows who&rsquo;s directing who,&rdquo; the responsibility falls back into the principal&rsquo;s lap.<br /><br />When WBEZ spoke with Chrobak- Prince at the end of the first day of school last week, she still didn&rsquo;t know who her Aramark custodial manager was. She also said the new contract has created more red tape.<br /><br />&ldquo;For something as simple as making sure the air-conditioning is regulated, you have to make ten phone calls and send five emails before anything gets done,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just simply go to your engineer and say I need this done because then they have this whole new system and they have to put it in the computer and they have to call their FM and they have to get it approved, and then we have to get three quotes.&rdquo;<br /><br />Norgren of CPS said &ldquo;that should not be happening.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;[Principals] should feel very comfortable directing the custodian that that garbage can needs to be dumped,&rdquo; Norgren said. &ldquo;It shouldn&rsquo;t be this process where they&rsquo;re running it up the flagpole.&rdquo;<br /><br />Norgren says Aramark officials will be meeting with individual principals in the coming weeks to address any problems.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Fewer custodians, cleaner schools?</strong></span><br /><br />CPS officials insist overall cleanliness of schools remains the same, despite reports indicating otherwise and an overall reduction in the custodial workforce.&nbsp;<br /><br />Of those who took the principal survey, 87 percent reported at least one janitor being cut. Additionally, WBEZ spoke with more than a dozen people at schools across the city and nearly all say their school has fewer custodians.<br /><br />&ldquo;As of right now, we have six night custodians, when we used to have ten and only two daytime custodians,&rdquo; said Carolyn Brown, a teacher and parent at Kelly High School. She says at least one of the bathrooms in the school is now only being cleaned once a week.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;My daughter actually goes to school here and it makes me, the parent in me, cringe at the idea of her going into a bathroom that&rsquo;s only cleaned once a week when we have thousands of people come through this building,&rdquo; Brown added.<br /><br />Jonathan Zielinski, a teacher at Drummond Montessori in Bucktown, said the school used to have four custodians, one for each floor of the building. They now have two.<br /><br />One of them has been at Drummond for more than 20 years and is being reassigned to another school, where he&rsquo;ll take the place of three custodians that were cut over the summer.<br /><br />&ldquo;He&rsquo;s not losing his job, but he&rsquo;s losing his family, his community,&rdquo; Zielinski told WBEZ. He added that for a school like Drummond, where the Montessori curriculum requires students to work in very specifically prepared environments, a clean, neat classroom is important. The custodians, like the one being reassigned, play an important role.<br /><br />&ldquo;He knows everybody in this building too,&rdquo; Zielinski said. &ldquo;A stranger walks into this building, [he] will recognize a face or not recognize a face. If I saw somebody who I didn&rsquo;t recognize in the building, I would ask [him] if he knew who they were, because he is here every day, every moment.&rdquo;<br /><br />And the reassignments are just the beginning. Norgren confirmed that roughly 475 custodians will be let go by the end of September. None of the 825 custodial positions covered by SEIU Local 73 will be cut, Norgren said. Many of those positions, like the one at Drummond, have been shifted as a result of the layoffs.<br /><br />Two and a half of those positions will be cut from Dave Belanger&rsquo;s school, Hanson Park.<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see how it would be physically possible for three and a half custodians to clean the campus we have,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />That campus includes four buildings with a total of 65 classrooms.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767 Unionized janitors lose battle over O’Hare jobs http://www.wbez.org/news/unionized-janitors-lose-battle-over-o%E2%80%99hare-jobs-104392 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3409_1387167671_43c9f53d5f.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of unionized janitors turned in their badges Friday at O&rsquo;Hare International Airport after losing their jobs in a contentious contract deal.</p><p>The task of cleaning and washing the windows at O&rsquo;Hare will now be taken over by 400 non-unionized workers.</p><p>Labor leaders and union members held protests Monday through Thursday. They targeted Mayor Rahm Emanuel for union-busting.</p><p>&ldquo;These were already organized union members,&rdquo; said Laura Garza, Secretary-Treasurer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1. &ldquo;So the question for the city is, why did they eliminate those good jobs, those middle-class jobs in the city? There was no need for the city of Chicago, for our mayor to do this to these workers.&rdquo;</p><p>United Maintenance, the company that won the 5-year contract with the City of Chicago said it&rsquo;s not up to them whether employees are unionized .</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s totally within the purview of the employee whether or not they want to unionize,&rdquo; said Anthony D&rsquo;Angelo, Vice President of Security with United Service Companies which oversees United Maintenance. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not management&rsquo;s decision.&rdquo;</p><p>The face-off between the union and United Maintenance has gotten more heated in the days leading up to the janitors&rsquo; final day on the job, with both sides telling very different versions of the story.</p><p>In press releases this week, SEIU said workers will be paid less for the same work; United Maintenance said it&rsquo;s paying some new hires more than they were making previously at O&rsquo;Hare as employees of Scrubs, Inc. SEIU said workers will have to pay for family health benefits when they didn&rsquo;t before; United Maintenance said its health package will be more comprehensive than the one offered by Scrubs, Inc.</p><p>Officials at the new contractor said they&rsquo;ve hired back 110 workers who were previously with the union. SEIU put that number at 50 out of 400 laid-off workers.</p><p>The starting wage for janitors with United Maintenance is $11.90 - 15 cents less than the starting wage with Scrubs, Inc.</p><p>Garza said SEIU will try to organize the new O&rsquo;Hare workers. She said those who lost their jobs did not want to speak to media Friday after an &ldquo;emotional week&rdquo;, but they are applying for unemployment and looking for work.</p></p> Fri, 14 Dec 2012 12:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/unionized-janitors-lose-battle-over-o%E2%80%99hare-jobs-104392