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Aldermen, Unions Pressure Emanuel To Re-Bid Controversial O'Hare Janitorial Contract

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 18, 2013 9:40PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he won't cancel or re-bed a janitorial contract at O'Hare Airport despite calls from aldermen and unions to investigate the deal worth $99 million.

The Sun-Times reported this week that Richard Simon, principle owner of United Maintenance, sold 50 percent of interest in the firm vying for the O'Hare contract in December of 2011 to a private equity firm, Invision Capital I LP. Simon and United Maintenance however, did not disclose this information until December of 2012. Emanuel awarded United Maintenance the O'Hare contract on Oct. 31, 2012, and the deal took effect on Dec. 15.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) says United Maintenance plans to replace the existing, unionized employees with non-union workers for less pay. On Tuesday, SEIU held a press conference outside the Mayor’s office. See video of the press conference below. "This is a serious deception…and it’s a violation of city requirement and should result, I believe, in this contract being voided,” said President Tom Balanoff.

Additionally, five city aldermen wrote a letter to Inspector General Joe Ferguson demanding an investigation into the ownership of Invision Capital I LP. Some 300 workers from SEIU were laid off after the contract took effect. United said it has re-hired approximately 100 workers from the previous cleaning contractor.
Thursday Emanuel maintained everything in the deal was above board, saying, “A lot of companies update their forms. And they were updated in this aspect.” He added:

“The company does work with a number of Fortune 500s throughout the country, as well as here in the city. They’re a company that’s doing the work and it’s saving money at the airport as well as actually providing their employees with better benefits.”