Norwalk BoE moving forward with janitorial outsourcing

AFSCME Local 1042 President Stanley Shular
AFSCME Local 1042 President Stanley Shular speaks against the Norwalk Board of Education’s plan to outsource custodial work, before the last BoE meeting.

Updated, 4:30 p.m., United Services connection to Maritime Aquarium more fully explained.

NORWALK, Conn. – A company has been selected to provide custodial services at Jefferson and Columbus Elementary Schools at a projected savings of $182,784 in the first year of outsourcing.

United Services of America was selected from nine competing companies, according to a letter written by Norwalk Public Schools Chief Business and Financial Officer Rich Rudl.

The plan to outsource was protested at the last Board of Education meeting, where the Common Council chambers was filled to capacity, mostly with janitors and those concerned about the issue. Comments to the board included assertions made by the custodians that they look out for the children, that “outsiders” won’t do that. Director of Policy and Planning at Council 4 AFSCME Peter Thor said that the move is part of an attack on the American middle class and a mother expressed concerns for the children’s safety.

United Services was originally established in Norwalk and has been providing custodial services for Stamford Public Schools for years, Rudl wrote. United Services conducts rigorous employee background checks including reviewing the sexual predator lists, the terrorism watch list and state and federal criminal records, Rudl wrote.

United Services has an employee incentive program for good behavior and is affiliated with 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Rudl said. United Services is part of the same corporation as Premier Maintenance, which was part of a controversy involving the Maritime Aquarium. Members of 32BJ lost their jobs when the aquarium decided to insource the cleaning but were reinstated after political protests, in a deal that was never fully explained.

United Services will provide 4.5 fulltime employees to both Columbus and Jefferson, with additional services in summer to prepare the schools for the beginning of the school year, Rudl wrote.

The company was chosen by an evaluation committee that included Jefferson Principal John Reynolds, Nathan Hale Assistant Principal Debra Bell Johnson, Brien McMahon Housemaster Roger White, Norwalk High Housemaster Adam Reynolds, Director of Facilities William Hodel and purchasing agent Karen Bartron.


37 responses to “Norwalk BoE moving forward with janitorial outsourcing”

  1. Norewalk Lifer

    In reviewing the RFP for the outsourcing effort, a few things struck me as curious:
    The order of precedence for the response to the bidding was topped off by costing, not quality, quality came second.
    The contractor(s) are required to perform drug testing, but not background checks, so the comments here concerning background checks is not mandated according to the bid, therefore the costing associated with this is most likely not included.
    The NPS preferred payment schedule is 60 days; no one in business agrees to that unless they are covering the cost of carrying that money, so how does this equate to savings? if the City paid in 30 days, or asked for 20 days net 10% how would that net out?
    The daily, weekly, monthly list of services, does this match what we are currently seeing now? how does it differ? in other words, is the savings really based on outsourcing the work, or has the work changed in any way as previously established?
    Norwalk’s standard of cleanliness according to the CIMS is between 1-2, 1 being showcase quality, and two being very clean; how does this equate to being germ free, toxin free, etc?
    Green cleaning standards are cited, how does the city plan on auditing to guarantee this?
    There is the standard clause for EEOC, but the city has the right at any time, for any reason, to request the dismissal of an employee of the contractor, “immediately”. And the contractor agrees to indemnify the city against any charges arising out of any action the contractor takes in fulfillment of this contract, that’s a recipe for disaster.
    Link here to the RFP:


    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Don’t Panic

    All good points Lifer.
    I would also like to know what afilliated with 32B-J means. You are either a union shop or you aren’t.

  3. OhNoNorwalk

    Out source the Police and Fire departments. They must be the biggest savings the city can get. No guts or brains to do that. Out source the Mayor and the Councils and cut our Tax bills in half.

  4. Ms Ruby McPherson

    I am outrage that trying to save money would out weight the safety of our children. These janitors know the children and Norwalk, you can bet they also know parents. Try saving money else where with the BOE in salaries where personnel don’t do there job. Thank you Norewalk Lifer for the right information.

  5. Scott

    It’s too late to argue the point. Just as i saw with the privatization of garbage collection. Once the RFP is put out there’s nothing to sway them. I spoke at every council meeting with valid points as a resident and taxpayer but they fell on deaf ears. The public speaking portion of the meetings is simply to placate us.

  6. peter parker

    I have an idea, why stop here? Let’s outsourse everything including the Mayor, and all of DPW, planning, zonning, etc. etc… Couldn’t be any worse than it is now and we’d save millions..

  7. EveT

    @ Norewalk Lifer asks some extremely important questions. Will the public get answers to these questions before the final decision is made?

  8. Scott

    peter parker I’ll make a deal with you. Go ahead and privatize everything and if we truly save money over at least a ten year period (because you always save on the first contract. It’s all about the foot in the door) I’ll pack up my family and leave Norwalk. If we don’t save money you can pay my portion. What do you say is it a deal. But of course it has fo also be apples to apples. It must be the same level of service we currently receive.

  9. Bill

    The guys in the picture exemplify exactly why we need outsourcing. I’ve never seen a more unprofessionally looking group of overpaid cleaning people in my life. We overpay and get substandard work because they do not feel the threats of ever having to lose a job.

  10. Lifelong Teacher

    Please. They don’t know children, they don’t counsel children. How about addressing, for the first time, those who are continually our on injury, those who don’t do their jobs, and those with other problems?

    My school hasn’t been clean. There’s been crud in the corners for months and years. Desks are cleaned once during the summer, and teachers ask parents for wipes, or buy their own cleaners and do it themselves especially during cold and flu season. “Germ free or toxin free….” Absolutely never.

    I for one am happy hat the district can request termination of an unsatisfactory employee immediately. That hasn’t been possible with this union.

  11. Scott

    LifelongTeacher. Hmmm, if that’s the case then i guarantee

  12. Artie Kassimis

    If you don’t mind me chiming in for a moment. @Norewalk Lifer – I have been reviewing the contract all weekend and it does require a background check which includes a verification of local and federal fingerprinting, background checks for social security trace, employment verification, national wants and warrants, and sex offender check as well as any record reflecting moral, felony, drug, or other types of arrest that would be detrimental to the school and its population. It’s item #21 on the contract not necessarily the RFP.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Artie Kassimis

      Thank you for chiming in and setting the record straight. Always welcome here.

  13. peter parker

    @ Scott, my comment was made in the spirit of sarcastic ambivalence, which I thought rang out loud and clear, but I guess not.

  14. Just to clarify, I asked BoE Chairman Mike Lyons to explain the relationship between United Services of American and Premier Maintenance. He said:
    “In 2002 United Services formed a partnership with Premier Maintenance (PMI) and in 2008 they acquired Melillo Maintenance. At which point they all aligned themselves under an LLC (as most companies who acquire or partner with other companies do), AffinEco. The LLC has over 600 accounts and includes all 3 branches with their corporate headquarters under the name United Services (in Bridgeport). The aquarium is one of their 600 accounts.”

  15. Don’t Panic

    And the 32BJ “affiliation”?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Don’t Panic

      They are part of the same company.

  16. Scott

    If I misread your sarcasm than I apologize. It doesn’t read the way you meant it which has always been the problem with this type of nonverbal communication. I am frequently misunderstood so I can relate.

  17. John Levin

    Just doing simple math: $182,784 savings per year divided by 4.5 jobs implies savings > $40,000 per job; or is it 4.5 jobs for EACH of Columbus and Jefferson?, in which case it’s 9 jobs, but still savings > $20,000 per job. Either way, the stakes are high for the incumbent union. Especially if you consider the likelihood of additional outsourcing plans for the future.

  18. Scott

    LifelongTeacher my previous comment experienced interruption due to work but accidentally was ‘pocket posted’. My point was going to be that as a member of the teachers’ union(I assume) do you feel the same way about some of your coworkers who maybe shouldn’t be teaching especially life longers that are likely making 6 figure salaries. Should they be terminated? Every job both private and municipal, union and nonunion has good employees and bad employees and it doesn’t take but a single one to ruin the reputation of the entire group.

  19. RU4REAL

    No background checks? No way that should be excluded from any agreement when our children are involved, period.
    As for outsourcing the Fire and Police departments, it would be a bad idea to do that in a city this size. The specialized training, equipment knowledge and familiarity with Norwalk makes them invaluable to our safety. We have already invested loads of money for the training and equipment (new firehouse to boot). Your basically saying cut our losses, I disagree.

    1. Mark Chapman


      Look back in this thread to BOE Vice Chairman Artie Kassimis’ comment. The background checks are in the contract, he said.

  20. Norewalk Lifer

    The problem I have is that the RFP does not call for this, so the bid process was flawed as it did not include the necessary requirements for back ground check.
    Why did the RFP not match the contract? that appears to be an issue from my perspective, in fact, in private business, something like this would be a violation of Sarbannes Oxley, as it does give a traceability from RFP, to contract to services to billings.
    This was put in place to defray the kind of nefarious doings (the Enron model).

    So Mr. Kassismis, while it may be in the contract, I wonder why it did not appear in the bid. In fact, I’d like to know if any other bidder offered this.

    And again, what is the profile of the cleaning pre-bid, versus post bid? did we save money because the requirements changed? or is there really a comparative analysis that showed the outsourcing effort save the 182K?

    These are simple questions.
    And they deserve answers.

    Norwalk Lifer

  21. Lifelong Teacher

    Yes Scott, I do feel the same way about bad teachers. Unfortunately, most administrators won’t do the hard and unpleasant work of dealing with this issue. In the past, fighting the NFT, combined with lack of support from human resources and others in central office, just made the task more difficult.

    But we owe it to our students to take this on.

  22. WOW just WOW

    I would be all for outsourcing the Police and DPW next. They are 2 of the most wasteful under productive departments we have in Norwalk.

  23. Don’t Panic


    Maybe we are hung up on the term. 32BJ is a union. Both divisions of this conpany are non-unionn yes? So how could there be afiliation? You are either union or not.

    1. @Don’t Panic
      The Premier Maintenance employees are members of Local 32BJ, SEIU. (The union organized protests when the Maritime Aquarium decided not to renew its contract with the company and they were then reinstated.)
      Rich Rudl’s memo says that United Services of America is “affiliated” with Local 32BJ, SEIU. So I would say that both divisions of the company have union workers. Perhaps more information will be revealed at tomorrow’s BoE meeting.

  24. Mike Lyons

    Lifer, a criminal records check IS required by the RFP – page 6. Costs are to be inclusive of all such checks – RFP page 10.

  25. One and Done

    No one here mentioned the most important part. The schools are actually going to be clean now.
    It will be interesting to see if the remaining union members step up to the plate and clean their buildings as well as Columbus and Jefferson will be done. It will be interesting to see if the disability leave and sick time drop too.

  26. Panic, all divisions of United use union employees.

  27. One and Done – the RFP and contract both will hold the contractor to strict, nationally-set standards for cleaning and maintenance of buildings. If the contractor fails to perform, we can (i) require the removal from our buildings of any poorly-performing employee and their replacement with another or, ultimately, terminate the contract on 30 days notice. We doubt the latter will be likely; United has been cleaning the Stamford public schools for years and got very high marks from Stamford when we did background checks. The point of this program is not just saving money — it is improving quality, too.

  28. One and Done

    God bless every white hair on Mike’s head. Great job.

  29. srb

    I know as a parent that the custodial workers at Columbus were an integral part of the staff, they considered themselves part of the team and often provided help outside of their hours- my family regularly witnessed it. Perhaps there salaries got to far from the “going rate” but nonetheless they cared about the school and thought of themselves as part of a larger organization. It’s sad to see them being treated as just one more cog in the wheel. I doubt this will be the case once outside contractors are used.

  30. piberman

    Why wouldn’t all Norwalkers encourage cost savings so that our scarse education dollars are spent in the classroom where education actually takes place ? Why is it so difficut to stop the naysaying and nitpicking about BOE decisions and see the broad picture. For the first time in decades we have a well functioning public school system with the BOE, Superintendent and even the teachers union working harmoniously and respectfully with each other. No informed citizen would have thought that ever possible just 2 short years ago. Lets encourage the “naysayers” to devote their attention to the Common Council where help is really needed. Imagine a potential newcomer to our City reading the above naysayer comments. Would they really want to move here ? Lets give the BOE its due. They’ve earned it twice over.

  31. Bobby Arvanitakis

    I live in Norwalk for 40 years.

    I remember Norwalk when was buzzing with prosperity.

    I remember Norwalkers didn’t need to make an appointment to talk to Mayor, he was 24/7 out asking people how are they doing.

    Now we need to give blood to ask a simple WHY?

    All politicians before they get elected, they look like lovable little puppies greeting every voter with a huge smile asking them for their vote, so they can make our lives better.

    A strange thing happens when finally get a seat, they are transformed to hungry WOLVES and forget that they were elected to serve Norwalk people and NOT private interest.

    Mr. Kassimis says the company X does a background check on the workers (we don’t know were they will get them from ) that will replace Norwalk citizens, but he doesn’t tell that amongst them might be an ex or parole convict.

    He, M. Lyons, Chiramante and especially a defector H. Keys, doesn’t guarantee our kids safety.

    I feel betrayed voting for a person for his/her political views and beliefs, who later jumps ship for her/his own reasons**.

    That’s politics in it’s worst form.

    I worked at one of the best Companies in U.S, Pepperidge Farm, for 19 years.

    When Norwalk denied to trade properties,( to built a new plant in a less populous site ) and give the company seven years tax break, they denied.

    A town named Bloomfield gave them free land and seven yeas tax break, without asking for the Westport Av. old property.
    I wonder who lost?

    I was for the first time in my life out of work.

    I join as a floater the custodian work.

    I see some nameless people, writing comments of pure hate.

    I wish they do my job for a week and they will change their tune and words.

    I dare anyone from the BoE to come and clean, wash, shovel snow until their soul is ready to leave their body.

    Lifelong teacher you must be ashamed of yourself to hide in anonymity. I invite you to visit Cranbury elementary school to see our job and talk to our teachers about us and in this case about me personally.

    Those who hide in anonymity are cowards.

    For 10 years we lived in fear losing our jobs.

    The past Mayor had raised our taxes three times and froze our earnings two times for over three years.

    We got a new superintendent and after five months he discovered over five million dollars missing from the BoE budget.

    His reward? After futile tries to find were the money had gone, he gave up and took the superintendent job at Westport.

    Finally WE elected a Democrat and we thought our fears were gone.

    We were WRONG I was wrong, someone betrayed her party and the BoE made us pay for electing a fine man and a Democrat.

    Our new Mayor was powerless. Now WE learned our lesson and the saying ” you fool me once same on you, you fool me twice, same on me” that person will not see my vote, my family votes, my relatives votes and my friends vote.

    When I lose my job, how I will pay my taxes, my bills, my gas for my car, the superintendent gas money and car?

    We are not lesser people of different God, because I only have a high school diploma and tree year of college ( I couldn’t effort more )

    Buying a college degree doesn’t make you a better person, it’s just a paper that makes you walk past Norwalk people with your head down and not even say “Hello” my modern day slaves ( all colors are welcomed ).

    I am a PROUD Greek American citizen with a beautiful wife inside out her name is Penny(known to public schools as Mrs. A. and two great sons one is a UCONN physical therapist and the younger a certified auto mechanic.

    Finally I have two sayings about politicians and politics.

    We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. ~Aesop

    Politics, n: [Poly “many” + tics “blood-sucking parasites”] ~Larry Hardiman

    Thank you.

  32. Bobby Arvanitakis

    One more thing.

    Somehow on the agreement book (Contract)in 2003 BoE change a tiny sentence, without telling or inform us of the change, that they could privatize our jobs…….. sneaky huh?

    Thank you again.

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