Chicago Public Schools contractor to lay off 476 custodians

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The move to lay off nearly 500 privately contracted custodial workers who clean Chicago Public Schools will make it harder to keep classrooms tidy, the union representing the custodians said Sunday.

“Scheduling and other changes that are causing the problems we are seeing now will only be exacerbated,” SEIU Local 1 spokeswoman Julia Valentine said in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Sun-Times reported Saturday that 476 custodians who clean Chicago Public Schools will lose their jobs at the end of the month.

The custodians will be notified of their job status by Sept. 30, said Leslie Norgren, who oversees custodians for the district. They are privately employed.

Mayoral candidate Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said Sunday it was “a continuation of the policy to do away with union workers.”

Fioretti, marching in the Mexican Independence Day parade Sunday, said he opposed the move.

“I’m a little taken a back by the approach,” said Fioretti, who announced his candidacy Saturday.

“We on the progressive caucus are looking at how we can stand up for these workers . . . they will face problems dealing with mortgages, rent paying for food and health care,” he said. “CPS has a privatization agenda that we should stop at this point.”

A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday referred questions to CPS officials, who were not available Sunday.

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and a potential mayoral candidate, could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.

The cuts come after CPS officials agreed to a $260 million contract in March with the firm Aramark, which used subcontractors to employ the custodial workers, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Saturday.

CPS principals have complained about school cleanliness since the district privatized the janitorial services, according to a survey by AAPPLE, a new activist group under the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School at 1420 W Grace St., said the cuts mean “residents of Chicago lose out, and the corporations profit from our losses.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Custodial staff who clean Chicago Public Schools and are facing layoffs work for subcontractors hired byAramark, not CPS, and are represented by Local 1 of the Service Employees International Union. The custodians’ employer and the number of the union local were incorrect in a story published Saturday.

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