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Fired library custodians added to list of Chicago's unemployed city workers
Custodial services personnel of Chicago's Department of Fleet and Facility Management (2FM) were sent a memo on Thurs, Nov. 29, to report at 9 a.m. on Friday morning to 1685 N. Throop facilities. From Assistant Commissioner Julie Bedore, the memo stated that recipients were "required to bring all City of Chicago building keys, your City of Chicago ID Badge and any other City property with you."
The more than 50 city-employed Chicago Library janitors summoned to the site just north of North Ave. are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73. Surprise, disbelief, despair and fear about their future was expressed by some of the workers . None of them expected this action now. "Why now?" and "Why us?" they asked.
Matt Brandon, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 73 said that the union has been working since May, when the Mayor announced privatizing many city jobs. He is still hopeful that he can get these library custodians the opportunity to continue in their jobs, with some concessions. They successfully achieved that for 80 of their members at O'Hare Airport. (They are not part of the current Local 1 battle.)
Brandon indicated that he thought the two companies the City will be using for these job will be Triad Consulting Services and Dayspring Professional Janitorial Services. He indicated that Dayspring was like United Maintenance, which is getting other City contracts. Their rates to the employee tend to be at least four dollars under the $11.90 to $15.90 workers are currently being paid. Further more they hire people on a part time basis and do not have to provide benefits, according to Brandon.
In an email to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kathleen Strand on behalf of the mayor stressed that the library custodian jobs were eliminated as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first budget "that passed the City Council unanimously” a year ago.
Termination of the 54 library custodians completes removing all city employees managed by 2FM. According to Strand, "All of the other facilities managed by 2FM have been using private vendors for some time. Collective bargaining agreement provisions urge any new vendor to consider hiring displaced employees. The city will also provide information on other city employment opportunities. In addition, all of the employees being laid off now qualify for part-time positions created under a new agreement with their union,” Service Employees International Union Local 73.
In the meantime, those who no longer have a job are saying:
"We took furlough days when they asked us to. That cost me $4,000 over three years. Our contract says we are to get a 90-day notice for termination. We got one day. I'm very concerned. I don't know what I am going to do and I have bills to pay," said Glenda Thomas, a 17-year employee.
Levi Ellerbe, a 13-year employee, said, "Our contract isn't up until 2015 or 16 but here we are. We have to put it in God's hands." "This makes me angry," a 17-year worker, Elizabeth Watson said. "There is no consideration no sympathy." A mother of one she also has two grandchildren, she hopes something will come thru.
William Payne is a single parent with four kids, one son in college and two children in high school. A 14-year resident in Lawndale he has worked as a janitor for years. "This is devastating, I just got the notice yesterday (Thurs.)."
Thursday evening Local 1 of SEIU's janitors and window washers carried candles and cakes for Mayor Emanuel's 53rd birthday as they marched outside of his Ravenswood home singing "Happy Birthday" in English, Spanish and Polish as they wished that he let them keep their jobs. They are workers from O'Hare Airport.
United Maintenance Co. Inc., owned by Richard Simon, won a $99.4 million city contract last month to clean O'Hare International Airport. The five-year contract is to start on Dec. 15 and is expected to have 300 losing their jobs.
Simon jointly managed another company with William Daddano Jr. from 1998 until December 2011 when the company was disbanded. Daddano is the son of the late mobster William "Potatoes" Daddano, a In 2004, Attorney General Lisa Madigan described Daddano and three other family members as “reputed members of organized crime” as she opposed Rosemont’s bid to open a casino, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
United Maintenance says they may rehire some of those who lost their job but instead of making $15.90 per hour, they will be paid 11.90 per hour.
The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), which runs one of the city’s largest charter school networks, held two job fairs to help recruit new O’Hare janitors for United Maintenance which is a non-union business. Juan Rangel who heads the Latino group, UNO, co-chaired Emanuel's 2011 campaign.
This summer 50 union janitors were laid off when a Dayspring Janitorial Services won a contract to clean police stations, city health clinics and senior centers. As reported in Progress Illinois, one laid off worker said, "We understand that the mayor has to balance the budget, but it should not come out of the hands of working people. You’re (Mayor Emanuel) taking jobs from poor people, people that are barely making a living wage, and you’re giving them to other unemployed people. ... We understand everyone needs a job, but you shouldn’t recycle poor people.”
According to the City's website, Chicago's Department of Fleet and Facility Management supports the operations of other City Departments by providing fleet and facility services. It was established by Mayor Richard Daley in 1991.
More than 11,000 pieces of equipment and vehicles, 425 leased and owned facilities are among the assets that they manage. The types of equipment handled by the department are fire ladders, pickup trucks, police cars and refuse trucks. They also provide support for document retention, central mail, and graphics and reproduction.