September 3, 2012

Mayor Emanuel and SEIU Local 73 Announce Competitive Bidding for Custodial Services at Airport

Innovative Agreement Will Reduce Costs and Incorporate Best Practices from Public and Private Sector to Improve Efficiency and Service

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 today announced an innovative new agreement that will reduce costs, improve efficiency and service, and allow SEIU Local 73 employees to continue providing custodial services at outlying airport buildings where Department of Aviation offices are located.

“This is an innovative partnership between the City and SEIU, and will lower costs while maximizing efficiency and quality of service,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This agreement demonstrates once again exactly how labor and management can come together to craft solutions that work for everyone—those who rely on city services and those who provide them.”

Earlier this year, the custodial services for outlying buildings at O’Hare International Airport were put out to bid. The results of the RFP demonstrated that current City employees were providing the services at a higher cost than private contractors would offer for the same service portfolio. As a result, over the past several months, SEIU officials have been working with the City to identify potential cost savings, work rule changes, and other modifications to the SEIU contract that would identify savings and allow the department to utilize new tools to bring about efficiencies. The agreement will affect 86 custodians in total.

As a starting point, the City and Local 73 have crafted an agreement that will lower the cost of custodial services by approximately 12 percent. During the competitive bidding process, representatives from Local 73 and the City will continue to meet at regular intervals to review the progress made and work to lower costs even further. 

"It is the openness of dialogue between Mayor Emanuel's office and our local that propelled both sides to reach an agreement that both protected the job security of our members and saved money for the City at the Airport,” said Christine Boardman, President of SEIU Local 73.  “We look forward to continuing our mutual progress in maintaining dialogue on achieving mutual gains for the residents of Chicago and our members.”

The competitive bidding partnership between the city and SEIU comes on the heels of the City’s successful competitive bidding process with labor unions in the collection of recycling material.  That cost savings realized in the program will support the expansion of recycling services citywide in 2013 by the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

This agreement with SEIU is the latest in a series of labor deals achieved by Mayor Emanuel in conjunction with local labor leaders.  Over the weekend, the City Colleges of Chicago announced that it had reached a comprehensive agreement with its faculty on a new contract, a year before the previous contract expired.  

The changes in the contract include the following:

  • The establishment of a part-time pool—The deal establishes a part-time pool of custodians, who will fill in for employees on vacation/leave, ensuring uninterrupted service. The ratio will be four full-time people to one part-time person, meaning the part-time pool will have 22 members. There will be no other staffing restrictions put into place. Seniority for part-time employees will be based on career service date for the first year of the pool; henceforth it will be based on actual hours worked.
  • Reduction of workforce—The number of window washers will be lowered from eight to four, and the number of foremen will be reduced from two to one. Laid-off window washers, if they are recalled to their positions, will be recalled at the rate of pay they received before they were laid off.
  • The establishment of a strict attendance policy – Each employee will be limited to five unexcused absences per year, and once an employee hits six absences, that employee is either terminated or allowed to go into the part-time pool.
  • Changes in compensation structure for window washers—Window washers will be changed from salaried employees, who receive sick time and three additional holidays, to hourly employees, which eliminates the accrual of sick time. Newly hired window washers will be paid at the prevailing rate, which is a $4 an hour reduction. Employees will be able to use up to five vacation days as sick days, which is standard for hourly employees.
  • Changes in positions and titles—Presently, there are three supervisory titles: Lead Custodian, Superintendent of Custodians, and Foreman. Those three positions will be collapsed into the Foreman title, and the hourly rate for that position will be flattened. There will be six Foreman titles positions.
  • Vacation scheduling–Workers will be required to select when they are going to use their vacation days at the beginning of the year, and will not be allowed to switch. This will ensure the successful use of the part-time pool of custodians.
  • Other changes include reduction in compensation for working on a holiday pay, and seniority for laid-off employees in the part-time pool.

The Memorandum of Agreement is a supplement to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that is in effect until June 30, 2017.


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