[CBS Chicago] Janitors’ Union Calling for Investigation of City Contract

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November 30, 2012 – CHICAGO (CBS) — The man behind a company that struck a big deal with the city of Chicago that’s expected to cut jobs, is raising eyebrows.

The union representing 350 O’Hare janitors is calling on Illinois’ Attorney General to investigate whether the man has ties to the mob. The man is Richard Simon, and his company, is Chicago- based United Maintenance Company. That company is set to takeover janitorial services at O’Hare in two weeks, but the businessman’s past and his deal with the city is being brought to the attention of state and city leaders.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is being called a “job killer” by members of the Service Employees International Union.

Three-hundred fifty O’Hare janitors are expected to lose their jobs as of December 15th, a part of Mayor Emanuel’s plan to privatize the city’s janitorial services. It’s a decision which had union members picketing in front of Emanuel’s home Thursday.

Part of the contract was awarded to United Maintenance, a company running out of a South Loop building, headed-up by businessman Rick Simon.

“This company is known for undercutting jobs, undercutting wages, and under cutting benefits,” said Laura Garza, Secretary- Treasurer with SEIU Local One.

Simon is a former business partner with William Daddano, Jr. known for his mob ties.

“There might be some questionable people who have been associated with this company and so we want Lisa Madigan to formally investigate,” said Garza.

In 2004, Madigan wrote an eight-page letter to Illinois’ Gaming Board, calling Daddano and his family, “reputed members of organized crime.” Daddano was said to be involved with a proposed casino at the time.

The union is also appealing to the city’s Inspector General.

CBS 2 asked Garza what the union is hoping the investigations will produce.

Garza responded by saying, “We’re hoping that we slow down this process. That the city revisits this contract and that they really take a deep look at what this company is associated with.”

Once learning about the union’s actions, Mayor Emanuel’s office released a statement saying, “The City has no reason to believe that there is any wrongdoing with the United Maintenance or its owner. However if material issues arise the city would take appropriate actions to protect its interests.”

It appears the union’s actions may not produce any results, since the Attorney General’s office tell CBS 2, investigating Simon related to this city contract, is out of its jurisdiction.

Inspector General, Joseph Ferguson is leaving it up to those responsible for city contracts, to report any conflicts to his office.

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[Better Government Association] Cleaning Up?

Curious questions arise about O’Hare Airport janitorial contract and the mayoral ally who stands to benefit.

By Andrew Schroedter/BGA


Juan Rangel runs the United Neighborhood Organization, an increasingly influential community group known as UNO that, with the help of tax dollars, operates charter schools catering to Chicago’s growing Latino population.

UNO also has a political dynamic: Rangel was co-chairman of Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign, and has been a vocal backer of the first-term Chicago mayor.

Now comes word UNO is branching into a new line of public-sector work – janitorial services – and stands to benefit from a $99.4 million cleaning contract at O’Hare Airport that recently was awarded by the Emanuel administration.

But how that contract came to be awarded is raising questions – and accusations that the Emanuel camp unfairly steered the work to the winning bidder, United Maintenance Co., a Chicago-based company that indicates in bid-related documents that it planned to pay UNO up to $5 million to help fulfill the contract.

“The city predetermined whom they wanted to give the contract to,” says John W. Tyler, CEO of Kaleidoscope Cleaning Co. The Maryland firm had the lowest bid out of 11 interested companies – $66.4 million – but was disqualified from the process because, city officials say, its financial projections weren’t realistic.

United Maintenance is run by Richard Simon, a former cop and long-time neighbor of former Mayor Richard M. Daley whose ties extend not only to politicians, but to union and reputed organized crime figures.

Tyler says the whole situation reeks of “dirty dealing” and prompted him to have a congressional ally, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), contact Emanuel, a former member of Congress, to ask him to reconsider the disqualification.

Emanuel’s chief procurement officer, Jamie Rhee, confirms Bartlett’s office contacted City Hall but says officials were not persuaded. The bid review process was legitimate and fair, she says, as is the decision by United Maintenance to partner with UNO and other community groups, if it so chooses.

Rhee says Kaleidoscope was disqualified because the city determined it couldn’t afford to “pay the required wages” at the amount it had proposed. The living wage is $11.53 an hour, Rhee says, adding that United Maintenance’s starting pay of $11.90 an hour, plus benefits, is higher than what’s required.

Tyler, who says he is considering filing a lawsuit over his losing bid, counters: “We agreed to pay whatever the city demanded. We have a warehouse full of supplies. That’s how we can pass along the savings to the City of Chicago.”

Emanuel personally signed the United Maintenance contract, as is standard in such cases, but relied on his staff to vet the proposals and make a recommendation, city officials say.

“I can tell you unequivocally that [Emanuel] doesn’t get involved in contracting processes of this sort,” mayoral spokesman Tom Alexander says.

Rangel echoes this, saying he didn’t discuss this deal with Emanuel and that the mayor played no role in connecting Rangel with Simon.

The United Maintenance contract stretches five years and takes effect Dec. 15, at which time hundreds of union workers from a now-expiring janitorial contract with Scrub, Inc., are being fired and replaced with lower-paid nonunion workers. Union officials have been staging protests, accusing Emanuel of “making it possible for millionaires and profitable corporations to help themselves to even bigger profits at the expense of good middle-class jobs.”

O’Hare is owned and operated by Chicago’s municipal government, so it falls under Emanuel’s control.

UNO, a nonprofit, is perhaps best known as one of the state’s largest charter school networks, with 13 schools serving 6,500 students in mostly Hispanic neighborhoods across the city. Though privately run, the group receives public funding, with much of the cash routed from the Emanuel-controlled Chicago Public Schools. (This year alone, UNO is budgeted to receive $44 million from CPS, according to a CPS spokeswoman.)

State records show that UNO’s for-profit janitorial arm, UNO Janitorial and Maintenance Service LLC, was formed in June 2008. The firm of about 60 employees mainly cleans UNO’s charter schools and other commercial venues but has never held a city contract, Rangel says.

On an economic disclosure statement and affidavit that United Maintenance filed last year with the city as part of the O’Hare bid process, UNO’s janitorial division was listed as an “anticipated” subcontractor.

The statement estimated it could be paid 5 percent, or nearly $5 million. But Rangel and United Maintenance indicate those plans have changed. The UNO’s cleaning operation isn’t a subcontractor, or even listed on the contract, they note.

But UNO is hosting job fairs and performing other tasks as needed to help United Maintenance fill some 300 open jobs, Rangel says, adding he expects UNO to be compensated, though it won’t be anywhere close to $5 million.

“We’re interested in doing outreach because Hispanics in our community need good jobs,” Rangel says.

“I would expect they would pay us,” he adds. “But I expect it would be more modest” than what was mentioned in the bid-related paperwork.

Simon, president of United Maintenance, didn’t return numerous phone calls.

He is the onetime chairman of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, and has been an investor in the Park Grill Restaurant at Millennium Park along with a host of other politically connected individuals – including Emanuel’s chief of staff, Theresa Mintle, who happens to be a cousin to Daley. (Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Simon also partnered in another business venture with a reputed mob figure.)

A statement released by United Maintenance says, “UNO was originally anticipated as being able to provide as much as 5 percent of our workforce. With 300 jobs available through this contract, that’s roughly 15 positions. Given the broad reach and strong community ties that UNO has, it is not unreasonable to think that 15 hard-working people could be employed by United after learning about the job through UNO.”

United Maintenance no longer plans to pay UNO, according to the statement.

If Tom Balanoff has his way, United Maintenance won’t need help filling any jobs. As president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, he’s calling on the mayor to rebid the janitorial contract, even as city officials stick to their guns.

Balanoff says of the situation, “It’s backwards.”

This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Andrew Schroedter. He can be reached at (312) 821-9035 or

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[Progress Illinois] O’Hare Janitors Refuse To Back Down In Fight For Their Jobs (VIDEO)

Check out the article and video here!

By Aricka Flowers, Friday November 30th, 2012

O’Hare janitors worried about the future of their jobs made a trip to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house yesterday afternoon to protest a new city contract. The workers rallied outside of the mayor’s home on his 53rd birthday to protest the deal that will cause some 300 workers to lose their jobs next month, just days before the holidays.

“We don’t know how we will pay the bills, how we will put food on the table. We won’t be able to celebrate Christmas this year with our kids,” Manuel Nieves, a janitor at O’Hare for seven years, said about the impending layoffs. “Obama is always here for the working people, but our mayor’s ultimate purpose is to help the rich, not us.”

The city brokered a $99 million deal with United Maintenance Company in October to take over janitorial services for O’Hare International Airport. The company decided to layoff all of the current staff and start a hiring process for 350 jobs that will pay much less than the current workers earn.

“Right now, a lot of us are making $15 [an hour] and they’re going to cut that down to $11.90,” Mildred Rueda, who works at the airport, explained at a protest at the mayor’s office earlier this month. “This new company has yet to come in to explain to us what their intentions are and what they’re bringing to the table.”

Cook County janitorial workers currently earn between $12.05 and $15.45 an hour, while the new O’Hare contract starts below the lowest range of what is paid to custodians in the area. As we reported, SEIU* Local 1 President Tom Balanoff says he does not understand why the city chose the lowest bidder for the O’Hare contract considering the money for the deal will not come from the city’s budget, but instead from fees paid by the airport’s airlines.

“Any savings are not coming to the city budget, they are going to the airlines,” Balanoff told Progress Illinois right before the Thanksgiving holiday. “It doesn’t make sense to me, it’s illogical and leading us in a direction that we cannot continue to sustain.”

As a result of this deal, SEIU, the union representing the janitors set to lose their jobs, have renewed their efforts to push for the Responsible Bidders Ordinance, which would prevent the city from entering into contracts with companies that would negatively affect city employees. The ordinance might also help the city avoid making deals with potentially shady figures, like Richard Simon, who owns United Maintenance Company. Simon was reportedly affiliated with another company owned by alleged mobster William Daddano Jr. from 1998 until December of last year. That company operated in the same building as United Maintenance Company, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The workers plan to continue protesting the contract and impending job losses with ongoing actions. Stay tuned.

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[Chicago Business Journal] Owner of firm with new O’Hare contract linked to alleged mob figure

Full article: Friday, November 30, 2012

The owner of a firm recently awarded a $99.4 million janitorial contract to replace 300 union workers at O’Hare International Airport has close ties to a man accused of involvement with organized crime, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Until 2011, Richard Simon, owner of United Maintenance Co. Inc., managed a company alongside William Daddano, Jr., who the Chicago Crime Commission listed as a mob figure in 1997, according to the report. Daddano was also allegedly linked to mob activity surrounding the development of an Illinois casino in the early 2000s, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune at the time. Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Simon said they were unaware of any wrongdoing involving United Maintenance, the Sun-Times reported.

Janitors currently working at the airport had previously protested at Mayor Emanuel’s house, saying they would lose jobs because United Maintenance does not use union labor, CBS Chicago reported.

The Sun-Times also reported today that 68 custodians at city libraries had been laid off, a month sooner than expected. Those jobs will be replaced with private staff hired by outside firms, the report said.

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[Chicago Sun-Times] Owner of firm with O’Hare deal has links to reputed mob figure

By Dan Mihalopoulos and Mitch Dudek, November 29, 2012

The owner of a company that recently won a $99.4 million janitorial contract from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration was the longtime business partner of a man accused of involvement in organized crime.

United Maintenance Co. Inc., owned by Richard Simon, was chosen last month to clean O’Hare International Airport for five years starting on Dec. 15.

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 told the Chicago Sun-Times late Thursday, “The city has 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.”

In a statement from Simon’s company, the janitorial firm said “at no time was anyone at United aware of allegations” against any of its business partners. The statement from United Maintenance also said Simon’s collaboration with Daddano involved leasing “certain heavy equipment” at convention centers and ended about five years ago.

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[ABC 7] O’Hare janitors protest at Emanuel’s home

November 29, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — Protesters marched in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home on his 53rd birthday.

O’Hare Airport janitors held a candlelight vigil late Thursday afternoon.

They are asking the mayor to reconsider his decision to cut jobs at the airport.

To save money, some union employees will be replaced by those working for a private contractor.

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[CBS Chicago] O’Hare Janitors Descend On Mayor’s House To Protest Looming Job Cuts

November 29, 2012 – CHICAGO (CBS)– Dozens of union airport workers were holding a prayer vigil outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house on Thursday, asking him to reconsider a decision to hand custodial work at O’Hare International Airport to a new company that doesn’t use union labor.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the O’hare janitors and window washers will lose their jobs in just over two weeks, when a new contractor takes over custodial work at the airport.

The workers wanted to send a message to the mayor, on his birthday: Walk a day in our shoes.

Asked what his job has meant to him, 25-year-old Jermaine Samples said, “It’s meant the world to me so far, up until now, because it was how I provide for my family.”

(Check out the video here.)

Samples, a member of Service Employees International Union Local 1, is about to lose his $15-an-hour cleaning bathrooms at O’Hare.

Union custodial workers employed by Scrub, Inc., are being pushed at O’Hare out after Emanuel awarded a new janitorial contract to United Maintenance, a non-union firm.

“I just refuse to go back to where I started. It took so long, and it was so hard to get there,” he said. “Fifteen dollars is like a lot to me, because nobody in my family never made that. I never went to college, so for a kid like me who never went to college to make that kind of money … it’s good.”

SEIU Local 1 secretary-treasurer Laura Rueda said the switch in custodial contractors at O’Hare isn’t about saving money, claiming the city’s request for proposals to run the operation there called for 69 more custodial workers than are already at the airport.

“This is about the mayor taking care of his millionaire friends, and this is about the mayor taking away middle class jobs,” she said.

A city spokesperson said, “The city of Chicago conducted an open, fair process to select the contractor with the focus on getting a fair and efficient deal for taxpayers.”

But the 320 janitors and window washers who are about to lose their jobs in the middle of the holiday season said the move isn’t fair.

Mildred Rueda, a single mother and grandmother who works as an O’Hare janitor said the situation is “very frustrating.” She said she’s already living paycheck to paycheck.

“I go home, I can’t sleep, because I don’t know what’s gonna happen, especially right around the holidays,” she said. “Since I am a single mother, I’m the only one that does everything in the household for my kids. As of right now, I’m thinking how am I going to do it to buy gifts for them?”

The city said United Maintenance might rehire some displaced workers. But there’s no guarantee, and union employees said, even if that happens, instead of making $15.90 an hour, they would make $11.90.

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WATCH: O’Hare janitors call on Mayor Emanuel to protect middle class jobs in Chicago

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Hundreds of O’Hare Workers Set to Lose Their Jobs Just Before Christmas

Mayor Emanuel Likely to Cut More Jobs, Forcing Hundreds of Families onto Public Assistance

November 8, 2012

Contact:             Izabela Miltko, 708.655.9681,

Chicago—More than 300 janitors at O’Hare airport may lose their jobs right before Christmas this year because Mayor Rahm Emanuel awarded a key public contract to a cleaning contractor with a history of undercutting good jobs. The company, United Maintenance, has already stated it will hire new workers and pay lower wages; what are now full time, family-sustaining jobs could become part time poverty jobs. This isn’t the first time in recent months that the mayor has turned his back on Chicago workers.

Mayor Emanuel has already eliminated many city jobs and outsourced others to companies that dramatically reduce wages and benefits. This includes a recent cleaning contract at police stations and other city buildings where dozens of janitors lost their jobs. Similarly, the O’Hare janitors currently have a union contract, family health care, and a living wage, but they will lose their jobs after years of service to this City and join the ranks of Chicago’s unemployed. The workers who take their place will likely be forced to rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet. Policies like this contribute to poverty in our communities and strike a blow to Chicago’s dwindling middle class.

“We don’t know how we will pay the bills, how we will put food on the table. We won’t be able to celebrate Christmas this year with our kids,” says Manuel Nieves, a janitor at O’Hare for seven years. Manuel and his coworkers don’t understand how the mayor and the newly re-elected President could have such different policies on jobs: “Obama is always here for the working people, but our mayor’s ultimate purpose is to help the rich, not us.”

Chicago is experiencing record unemployment, record foreclosures and record poverty. Wages have remained flat for 90% of Chicagoans in the last ten years. Voters say these are issues they expected Emanuel to address by creating good jobs for working families—not replacing them with low-wage, no benefit jobs. Mayor Emanuel stated as much in his November 4 State of the Nation appearance on behalf of the Obama campaign. He applauded the President for “building on the middle class and not short-changing them like Mitt Romney would do” by ensuring they can own a home, send their kids to college and have a secure retirement.

“Our mayor says one thing and does another,” says SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “Hundreds of families would be forced into poverty and onto taxpayer-funded assistance programs if this decision stands. It’s not what workers expect from a Democratic Mayor of Chicago who was President Barack Obama’s right hand in Washington.”



SEIU Local 1 unites 50,000 property service workers in the central United States, including janitors, security officers and residential doormen. Together we work to build strength for all working people, on the job and in our communities.

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SEIU Local 1 Member Newsletters – October 2012

Catch up on news from your state and around Local 1. (Each newsletter is available in multiple languages.)

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