KC school janitors rally for cleanliness and good pay at board meeting

Janitors who work in Kansas City Public Schools rallied membership to attend the district’s board meeting Wednesday to persuade school leaders to opt for unionized custodians to clean their middle and high school buildings.

About 20 members of Service Employees International Union Local 1 attended the meeting, having called on the board to “select a contractor that offers janitors a voice on the job,” said Nick Desideri, a union spokesman. “The board’s final decision will have a massive impact on cleanliness standards at all schools across the district.”

The board took no action Wednesday.

School district administrators have recommended that the board approve a new and more than $10 million three-year contract with Marcis & Associates beginning July 1.

If approved by the board of education, Marcis would serve the district’s middle and high schools.

“We are going with what we believe to be the lowest and best,” said Al Tunis, interim superintendent.

Tunis said going with an outside company rather than an in-district custodial service saves the district “a little more than $1 million a year, mostly in salaries and benefits.”

While the district has outsourced janitorial work for its middle and high schools, its elementary schools are cleaned by a district-employed custodial staff.

The district recently reached a contract agreement with those employees that goes through June 2017. Some of the district-employed janitors are union members.

Union officials argued that the company now cleaning the middle and high schools does not recognize union workers and has “cut corners” in pay and staffing that have left the schools less clean.
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