Aramark, the private service company now in charge of managing all the custodians in Chicago Public Schools,has decreased the number of janitors who were going to lose their jobs on Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times learned Monday night. And layoffs of the rest were postponed for a month.
The news comes in the wake of Board of Education promises to resolve numerous complaints from a wide range of school communities about dirty conditions and delayed responses from new managers at Aramark.
SEIU Local 1 warned members that 468 custodians were going to lose their jobs on Sept. 30, but 178 with top seniority will stay on,the affected members learned Monday in a robocall from union president Tom Balanoff.
“I repeat: 178 custodians on the layoff list — those with the highest seniority — will keep your jobs,” the call said. “This is a bittersweet victory, and we are not done fighting yet.”
Of those 178, 83 will keep their jobs and 95 will work until the end of the school year, be laid off for two months, and then be rehired in the fall, according to union spokeswoman Julia Valentine, who verified the call.
An additional 290 will work in their schools until Oct. 31, they learned Monday.
“I hope this extra time to find new employment alleviates some of your hardship,” Balanoff said in the call.
An Aramark spokeswoman confirmed the newsMondaynight, saying in an email, “Chicago Public Schools, Aramark and SEIU Local 1 continue to work closely to make sure all CPS schools have appropriate custodial staffing levels to ensure clean schools.”
CPS hired Aramark in March on a three-year, $280 million contract to manage about 2,500 janitors systemwide; about 1,700 SEIU 1 members; and 825 directly employed by the district.
The district promised cleaner schools, cost savings and principals freed up from managing their schools’ cleaning activities.
Surveys conducted by a principals’ association, the Chicago Teachers Union and the parent group Raise Your Hand have reported filthy conditions and bad smells inside many schools and principals mired in cleanups instead of managing teachers.
CPS chief administrative officer TIm Cawley, who recommended Aramark in February, reiterated promises last week at a meeting of the Board of Education to resolve the problem, saying Aramark is aware of the issues and has“flooded the zone with managers from around the country at their own expense.”