City Hall can do better than hiring another troubled janitorial company

Surely, there are other janitorial firms besides ABM Industries, which was profiled in a PBS documentary on sexual harassment.

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A United Maintenance Company Inc. employee at work Tuesday at O’Hare Airport. The company is suing City Hall in an effort to hold onto a janitorial services deal that’s paid it almost $200 million over nearly a decade.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

A Chicago janitorial company that settled a wage-theft lawsuit filed by low-wage O’Hare janitors for more than $1 million in 2016 is now suing City Hall in an effort to keep their deal at the airport.

To United Maintenance, we say, good riddance. 

A company that’s been paid about $200 million of public money in the past decade should never be mixed up with wage theft or pay concern accusations from Chicago employees.

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City Hall is right to move away from a company with a checkered past. But another company could potentially land at O’Hare with its own harmful baggage.

In its suit, United Maintenance says City Hall plans to split the work that the company has been doing at O’Hare between ABM Industries Inc., which has its own controversial past, and another company.

As the Sun-Times’ Robert Herguth recently reported, ABM Industries Inc. has faced lawsuits filed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the company of failing to protect female workers from sexual violence. ABM was even the subject of a PBS “Frontline” documentary, “Rape on the Night Shift,” about women who were sexually harassed and assaulted while working as night janitors in California. 

A spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation, which manages O’Hare and Midway Airport, said no one has been hired and the search for a company is ongoing.

According to a written statement from ABM to the Sun-Times, the company has “zero tolerance for harassment of any sort.”

City Hall can surely do better.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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