Malcolm Rashad

Malcolm RashadMalcolm Rashad has worked as a security officer for a company called Securatex for a year and a half. He currently works full-time protecting a Fresenius dialysis center on Chicago’s south side.

Malcolm works hard and puts himself at risk to keep the patients at Fresenius safe, yet he is paid just $8.75 an hour and doesn’t have access to affordable health insurance himself.

According to a recent survey of Securatex officers, Malcolm is not alone. A full third of officers who responded report that they rely on public assistance for health care. Effectively, taxpayers are subsidizing these poverty-wage jobs.

Malcolm can’t afford a place of his own on his Securatex wages, so he lives with his parents. He wants to go back to school, but he can’t afford that either. Malcolm’s situation is a sad example of how poverty-wage jobs trap hard-working people and their families in a cycle of poverty.

In addition to low wages, Malcolm and his coworkers have to struggle to compensate for chronic understaffing and near-constant turnover. Malcolm is often forced to work 13 to 16 hours at a time because the company cannot find officers to cover the shifts. High turnover and understaffing in the security industry means fewer experienced officers protecting our homes, offices, and health care facilities.

“When we need to go home after our shift they sometimes just say they have no one to cover us,” he says. “If we can’t stay over time they threaten to fire us.” Malcom says that officers are less alert if they are exhausted and overworked, and fears that this could lead to someone making a dangerous mistake.

Recently, Malcolm approached Securatex management to ask for more training. 66% of Securatex officers surveyed report that they received 8 or fewer hours of training before they started working, and 85% of respondents report that they have never received refresher training. Malcolm’s request was denied; Securatex refused to pay for more training. Malcolm and his coworkers believe that every Securatex officer should feel prepared for the important and dangerous job of protecting the public—that’s why they’re organizing a union.

Malcolm used to have a union job. He saw first-hand that having a union benefitted both workers and the public. He and his coworkers had benefits, fair wages, and affordable health care. Consequently, turnover was low.

“If we had a union, turnover would be lower, and we would have a way to fix problems at work,” Malcolm says.

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Janitors Union Chief: Ditch O’Hare Cleaning Contract [Chicago Sun-Times]

by Dan Mihalopoulos

The head of a politically powerful janitors’ union on Tuesday renewed calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to cancel a new cleaning contract at O’Hare Airport that could be worth almost $100 million.

Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, alleged United Maintenance Co. Inc. violated the city’s rule requiring bidders for city business to provide officials with “current” information on their ownership.

Union member Oscar Sandoval joined SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff at Tuesday's press conference.

Balanoff’s call followed a Chicago Sun-Times report that United executives took a year­ to update their initial report to the city and reveal how president and CEO Richard Simon had sold a 50 percent stake in the South Loop firm to a private-equity fund. By that time, United had landed the O’Hare deal.

“This is a serious deception,” Balanoff told reporters outside Emanuel’s office. “It’s important to know who owns these companies. We all know the history of Chicago. These [rules] were put in place to avoid conflicts of interest.”

Emanuel aides acknowledge Simon sold a 50 percent stake in United’s holding company to Loop-based Invision Capital I LP in December 2011 but did not inform the city of the ownership change until last month.

City purchasing rules dictate that economic-disclosure statements from bidders “must be kept current.” Failing to do so can result in the city voiding contracts.

But in a statement, the mayor’s office said “the city is not required to take any action” against companies that don’t file updated disclosures.

Emanuel spokeswoman Kathleen Strand told the Sun-Times administration officials believe United’s one-year delay in bringing its ownership disclosures current was an unintentional oversight.

Strand said the O’Hare contract was United’s first deal with the city. “So they’re not old hands” at filing the disclosures, she said.

Simon had been described as the firm’s sole owner when United first bid for the O’Hare deal in September 2011. The disclosure document submitted then was the only publicly filed record of United’s ownership until after the Emanuel administration awarded the $99.4 million contract on Oct. 31. The deal went into effect a month ago.

The statement from Emanuel’s office Tuesday also accused union leaders of a “campaign to smear the mayor.” The service employees’ union, which was neutral in the 2011 election that Emanuel won, has alleged for months that the United deal would cost its members jobs.

City officials added that background checks on “the current United owners” turned up no reason not to give them the airport custodial work.

But it’s unclear whether city officials know the identities of any of the investors who own the part of United that Simon sold.

In their disclosures filed with the city, Invision executives said none of the firm’s owners hold a stake of more than 7.5 percent. That’s the city’s minimum standard for disclosing a company’s owners.

Invision listed a general partner, Robert Castillo, in its filing with the city last month. Castillo has not returned repeated phone calls.

A spokesman for United declined comment Tuesday.

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New ‘hygienic’ toilet seats at O’Hare aren’t all that clean (VIDEO) [Chicago Sun-Times]

By Dan Mihalopoulos, Wednesday, January 28, 2013

The motorized “hygienic seats” that a controversial new janitorial contractor installed recently at O’Hare Airport are not very hygienic after all: As the plastic wrapping rotates over seats, it drags up liquid from the rim of toilet bowls and leaves drops of that liquid atop seats, on the clear plastic film that’s supposed to be clean.

A toilet seat cover malfunction at O'Hare International Airport. | Sun-Times Media

The new plastic-wrapped toilet seats are being installed throughout the airport by United Maintenance Co. Inc., the contractor that began work last month under a five-year, $99.4 million deal with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

On Monday, city officials and a top executive for United said they have experienced problems with water pressure and splashing at some O’Hare toilets. But Anthony D’Angelo, United’s director of compliance, said he did not know of the problem that the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out: “Our understanding is that it was clean water, not soiled water, on the seats.”

In a visit to a men’s restroom at O’Hare on Monday morning, the Sun-Times found that any liquid that happens to splash on the rim of a toilet bowl can end up on the seat, where the next user of the stall can unwittingly squat down onto a mess.

In the restrooms closest to the subway station at O’Hare, a reporter tested a reader complaint about the new seats by pouring some orange juice onto the rims of toilet bowls. After the reporter waved over the sensors that activate the hygienic seat motors, the plastic wrapping spun around the toilets—and some of the juice that had been on the rims ended up on the seats.

The same problem was not observed with the older seat covers that remain in use for now in other parts of the airport. D’Angelo said United chose to replace all existing hygienic seats after failing to reach agreement with the company that had supplied seat covers for the airport’s bathrooms for years.

The new “Sani Seat” devices installed on United’s watch are made by a company in New Jersey, according to the firm’s website. Company officials did not return calls Monday, but D’Angelo said that product was “vastly superior” to the old seats. “We think we’re doing a good job,” he said.

Unlike the old seats, the new devices do not feature a digital display indicating when a fresh cover is ready for use, even though United’s contract requires each stall to include “a display which clearly shows a new seat cover.”

The new seat covers also rotate when seats are up, the Sun-Times found, despite the requirement that they do not do that.

In a statement Monday, an Aviation Department spokeswoman said, “We are aware of no airport customer complaints about the toilet seat issue you mention.”

Emanuel also defended the deal with United recently after five aldermen called on the city’s inspector general to investigate it. The aldermen said they were responding to a Sun-Times report that United CEO Richard Simon sold 50 percent of the janitorial company in 2011 but did not disclose the transaction until a year later — after winning the O’Hare contract. Bidders for city business are required to provide city officials with current ownership information.

Watch the full video here!

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Illinois to Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s Licenses

On January 8th the Illinois House passed a law allowing all undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. This law states that all undocumented immigrants are now eligible to apply for a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License. The temporary visitor driver’s license will allow undocumented immigrants to drive to the store, bring children to school and various other tasks while in full agreement with Illinois driving laws.

To qualify for a temporary visitor driver’s license you must:

  • Prove you have lived in Illinois for at least one year
  • Provide a valid, unexpired passport or consular ID
  • Provide other proof of identity and residency that the Secretary of State might require
  • Provide documentation that you are not eligible for a Social Security Number
  • Pass all applicable vision, written, and road tests
  • Show proof of insurance for the vehicle you use for the road test
  • Pay a $30 fee

Need help obtaining a temporary driver’s license?

  • Contact the State Department:  800-252-8980
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel Eliminates Hundreds of Union Jobs [MSNBC, Up with Chris Hayes]

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Mayor Risks Becoming Scrooge In O’Hare Labor Controversy [Walter Jacobsen, CBS]

Walter Jacobson

Walter Jacobson (CBS)


(CBS) — Did you hear those Christmas carols at Mayor Emanuel’s home, sung about the janitors at O’Hare?

The floor-washers, window-wipers, the toilet-scrubbers at O’Hare, caroling for their salaries, walking in the dark and cold, pleading with Mr. Mayor to save their jobs.

Please, they sing, don’t pink-slip us, not now, sir, not before Christmas.

Do you hear them, Mr. Mayor?

Are you listening to the pleas of 300 janitors being fired before Christmas, so that you can hire new janitors for less pay, so that you can save $11 million in your $8 billion budget?

Minority janitors, immigrant janitors who have followed their dreams to the middle class in Chicago, working jobs that most people don’t want, for $12 or $13 an hour — being knocked down to the bottom class.

To save a few million out of $8 billion?

That’s not being Mr. Mayor at Christmas. It’s being Mr. Scrooge.

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Is the Mob cleaning up at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport? [Daily Kos]

Mayor Emanuel’s latest O’Hare Airport janitorial contract seems to be coming with pinkie rings and tailored silk suits attached. Yes, City Hall is reaching out to the Outfit again, renewing a friendship that dates back at least to Mayor Big Bill Thompson of the Prohibition Era. Thompson’s heart went all aflutter when he heard the name Al Capone. The Outfit is a local Chicago name for what most Americans call the Mob or the Syndicate.

City Hall’s courtship with the Mob blossomed publicly under Mayor Richard J. Daley who, as Chicagoland old timers will recall, was pals with such Mob luminaries as Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik, John D’Arco, Fred Roti and Jake Arvey. After all, the Outfit is really just another business seeking political favors and doling out campaign contributions.

Today’s City Hall-Mob relationship at O’Hare Airport is shown in the graphic below. Vendors at O’Hare get their contracts through City Hall:

Today’s O’Hare Mob Connection


In recent times the Outfit has gone tres moderne, investing its capital accumulated through bootlegging, drugs, prostitution,gambling, union corruption and extortion in what are quaintly referred to as “legitimate businesses”.

These businesses include United Maintenance, which just got a juicy contract to sweep, mop, wipe down and dust O’Hare Airport. A unionized contractor named Scrub was ousted in favor of the non-union City Hall connected United Maintenance who pays less than the unionized Scrub did.

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Paul Fosco is an executive vice-president of United Service Companies, parent to United Maintenance. Paul Fosco want to prison for 10 years on racketeering charges stemming from Mob corruption in the Laborer’s Union (now mostly clean after a long battle). Paul Fosco had been on trial with mob boss Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo, but the wily “Big Tuna” escaped the federal net and swam free. Accardo’s career began in a lowly Chicago street gang, but received a major promotion when Al Capone admired his skill at beating two rival mobsters to death with a baseball bat.

As for Paul Fosco, he is part of the celebrated Fosco crime family which included Angelo Fosco, a former president of the Laborer’s International Union (LIUNA) and a close associate of Chicago mobsters Paul “The Waiter” Ricca and Joey Aiuppa. The Fosco’s ran the union for years starting with Peter Fosco Sr. who assumed the presidency of LIUNA in 1968 after decades in Chicago. After the death of Angelo Fosco in 1993, reformers and criminal indictments have cleaned up the union.

The owner of United Service Companies is former cop Richard Simon. According to the Sun-Times, “Simon had partnered in yet another firm with William Daddano Jr., who was accused of organized-crime ties by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Chicago Crime Commission.”

So is City Hall married to the Mob? Not exactly, it looks more like a back room steamy affair. When asked about O’Hare and the Mob, Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed the subject, “Look, it was competitively bid. We will have a vigorous enforcement and make sure everybody lives by and appropriately stands by the law.”

Rahm has declared an all-out  War on Wages through privatization, vendor favoritism and unionbusting, so his flirtation with the the Outfit is just part of a larger strategy. When it comes to screwing over the working class Rahm likes to have many partners among his sweetheart deals.

One of those unionbusters linked to the O’Hare deal is none other than charter school boss Juan Rangel. Rangel is a City Hall favorite who was co-chair of Rahm’s campaign committee and a receiver of considerable City Hall largesse doled out to UNO (United Neighborhood Organization). UNO used to be a scrappy neighborhood advocacy group, but is now a major ally of powerful Chicago corporations.

UNO owns a chain of charter schools in mostly Latino neighborhoods. A vocal opponent of the Chicago Teachers Union and neighborhood schools, Rangel has expanded UNO into janitorial services and had been contracted to United Maintenance to provide O’Hare janitors. Sub-contracting is the latest capitalist fad, allowing larger corporations and local governments deniability when workers are abused. It’s also handy for unionbusting.

Rangel may be hoping to eventually bust the Chicago Teachers Union with relentless charter expansion, but he was willing to settle for a unionbusting deal with a Mob-aligned company in the interim. Now both Rangel and United Maintenance are backing away from what had been a $5 million arrangement. Rangel apparently has a sense of political self-preservation. The Mob connection would play poorly in Chicago working class neighborhoods where gangs are a major issue.

In the old days when the economy was booming, the Democratic machine was more of a blue collar operation and normally had close relationships with the Chicago labor movement. Mayor Richard J. Daley was famous for stepping in and mediating labor contracts, often to the short-term benefit of union members. The Mob too was a major influence among some Chicago unions. But those days of City Hall generosity and Mob so-called “protection” of labor are long gone.

Now Chicago workers are defending themselves through their unions, community organizations and allied groups. An example is SEIU Local 1 which is spearheading an effort to save jobs and a living wage at O’Hare for the janitors who keep O’Hare looking decent for visitors. The union is also asking Illinois Attorney-General Lisa Madigan for a formal investigation into the Mob connections at O’Hare.

O’Hare janitors stand up for their rights

The Democratic machine is now largely made up of LaSalle Street financial institutions, major real estate interests and just for old times sake, the Chicago Outfit. But it’s important to remember that the Outfit is at best a medium-sized business in this new Chicago machine.  The O’Hare-Mob connection has its titillating old-school gangster aspect, but the Outfit role is only one part of a larger story.

This is an era of massive privatization and unionbusting, when global mega-banks, some with offices right down the street from City Hall, can get away with criminal acts far more destructive to society than anything a Capone or a small time crook like Paul Fosco could ever pull off. Rahm is a partner in this big time global criminal activity. It’s great to catch the marauding mice like United Maintenance at O’Hare, but lets not forget the bigger meaner financial rats who prey upon Chicago. They represent the greater danger.

Service Employees International Union Local 1 will be sponsoring a City Hall Protest at 3:30 on December 11 to defend unionized janitors who have lost their jobs at O’Hare. SEIU has already held multiple protests against Rahm’s War on Wages. Be there if you can.

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[WGN] Mob questions mount in story WGNTV first broke

Check out the video and full story here!

Mark Suppelsa, Marsha Bartel WGN News – December 5, 2012
Mayor Emanuel was forced to defend his pick to give a $99 million dollar contract to United Maintenance for cleaning up O’Hare.  It’s a story first broken by WGN-TV.

Now we uncover more about the checkered past of men the CEO of this company has surrounded himself with.

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[Chicago Tribune] Emanuel defends O’Hare janitor contract

Union members rally outside mayor’s office to protest deal

By John Byrne, Chicago Tribune reporter | 7:57 PM CST, December 4, 2012

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended a new janitorial contract at O’Hare International Airport that union members have said will cost Chicagoans good-paying jobs.

About 100 people, including members of Service Employees International Union Local 1 and clergy members, showed up at City Hall Tuesday afternoon to take part in a prayer vigil outside the mayor’s fifth-floor office to protest the $99 million contract with United Maintenance Co. Inc., hours after Emanuel spoke in favor of the five-year pact.

The union has about 320 members at O’Hare, and Laura Garza, secretary-treasurer for Local 1, said many could lose their jobs or be forced to accept significantly lower salaries under the new deal with United Maintenance that takes effect later this month.

“They’re not a responsible bidder for this contract,” said Garza, who called on Emanuel to rebid the deal. Last week, union members marched in protest outside Emanuel’s North Side house on his 53rd birthday.

Earlier Tuesday, Emanuel said the new airport janitorial services agreement is evidence of his commitment to lowering costs. “We brought competition, throughout the city, throughout all services,” the mayor said at a news conference to announce an approach on services for immigrants. “That competition has brought better services at a lower price and more work.”

Emanuel has come under criticism for not bidding certain deals, including an electronic billboard contract that seems headed for City Council approval.

In a statement, United Maintenance said the company is encouraging current O’Hare janitors to apply for jobs under the new deal. The company is offering “the prevailing wage and better benefits than employees now receive,” the statement said.

The Chicago-based company won the new airport janitorial contract after the city’s previous deal with Scrub Inc. ran out in June. United Maintenance underbid Scrub by more than $11 million and also came in below eight other bidders, according to city records.

Scrub has been paying workers according to prevailing rates that begin at $12.05 an hour and top out at $15.45 an hour for those with five years or more of seniority. But Garza said United Maintenance plans to replace higher paid workers with new employees or rehire existing workers at lower rates.

The company has faced a prior complaint about undercutting labor deals.

In 2002, United Maintenance’s parent company was named in a federal Independent Review Board investigation of Chicago Teamsters union leaders. United Maintenance’s president, Richard Simon, was found to have colluded with Teamsters Union officials on a contract for workers for Las Vegas trade shows. Simon denied wrongdoing.

In recent months, union-allied aldermen have pushed for a “responsible bidder” ordinance including rules to protect longtime workers at places like O’Hare, but the proposal has not gained traction at City Hall.

Twitter @_johnbyrne,0,3588235.story

Copyright © 2012 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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[Chicago Sun-Times] Emanuel brushes aside contractor’s organized crime ties allegations

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter December 4, 2012 2:24PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday brushed aside allegations that the owner of a company awarded a $99 million O’Hare Airport janitorial contract was the longtime business partner of a man with ties to organized crime.

“We had a competitive process. This company won and they’re now offering jobs to the other [union] workers to also work for them at the airport doing the janitorial services,” the mayor said.

“I would note that that same company has a number of contracts with high-rises downtown in the city of Chicago with SEIU [Service Employees International Union]. So, there’s a fuller story, a more complete story. There’s more than just one side to this story.”

Laura Garza, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 1, said the mayor was dead-wrong.

“United Maintenance does not have a contract with us for any commercial buildings. They have no contracts with us in commercial buildings period. In the past, they had contracts with two buildings for four workers. They expired,” Garza said.

As for Emanuel’s attempts to slough off the alleged mob ties, Garza said, “Lisa Madigan in 2004 labeled the Daddano’s as mobsters. We’re calling on the inspector general and the attorney general to investigate this [to determine] whether they’re a reputable contractor to do business with the city.

Last month, the city chose United Maintenance Co., Inc. to provide custodial services at O’Hare for the next five years, ignoring a powerful union leader’s claim that the company intends to dump 300 union custodians and replace them with lower-paid, non-union janitors.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that United Maintenance owner Richard Simon was involved in another company with alleged mob figure William Daddano Jr.—from 1998 until that firm was officially disbanded on Dec. 17, 2011, according to state records.

The company managed jointly by Simon and Daddano was based in the same South Loop building where United Maintenance has its offices, the records show.

In 2004, Attorney General Lisa Madigan described Daddano and three other family members as “reputed members of organized crime” as she opposed Rosemont’s bid to open a casino.

And in a “Chicago Outfit Organizational Chart” published in 1997, the Chicago Crime Commission listed Daddano among the “members and associates” of the mob’s North Side crew.

An Emanuel administration spokesman responded by saying City Hall had “no reason to believe that there is any wrongdoing with United Maintenance or its owner. However, if material issues arise, the city would take appropriate action to protect its interests.”

United Maintenance issued its own statement that insisted that, “at no time was anyone at United aware of allegations” against any of its business partners.

Simon’s collaboration with Daddano involved leasing “certain heavy equipment” at convention centers and ended about five years ago, the company statement said.

Daddano is the son of the late mobster William “Potatoes” Daddano. Reached on his cell phone, Daddano hung up on a Sun-Times reporter.

In an effort to save their jobs, janitors and window washers marched outside Emanuel’s Ravenswood home last Thursday night, which happened to be the mayor’s 53rd birthday.

Carrying a birthday cake, roughly 70 janitors sang “Happy Birthday” in Spanish, Polish and English before blowing out 53 candles and making a wish: that Emanuel would let them keep their jobs.

Garza called on Madigan to investigate United Maintenance.

“Those are right now middle-class jobs where people can feed their families, and they are going to be entry-level, poverty jobs,” Garza said.

But officials for United Maintenance, whose workers are not unionized, say they will hire some of the existing workforce and offer them the prevailing wage and better benefits. They also noted that the contractor they are replacing — Scrub Inc. — was fined $3 million for refusing to hire African Americans as O’Hare janitors.

Rick Simon once served as chairman of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and was a South Loop neighbor of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He is among a handful of Daley pals who invested in the Park Grill Restaurant at Millenium Park.

In 2002, a union oversight committee accused Simon of colluding with Chicago Teamster William Hogan Jr. in a deal that would have allowed Simon to undercut the pay of Teamsters who worked at Las Vegas conventions. Simon denied the allegations.

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