[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.

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

Check out the video here!

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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