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News :: Labor
Video-Malden School Custodians Picket Against Privatization
06 May 2014
SEIU888 picket line in Malden against mayor's plan to outsource school custodian jobs to a private contractor.
Malden, Mass.-May 5, 2014
There was a union SEIU888 picket line in front of
Malden, Mass. City Hall today, May 5--they are protesting
Mayor Christenson's plan to privatize and outsource
Malden's union school custodian jobs, putting long time
Malden employees out of work and giving their jobs to
a low paying private contractor.Call the mayor 781-397-7000
or e-mail him mayor (at) and tell him no
to privatization. for more info.

VIDEO I took:
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Re: Video-Malden School Custodians Picket Against Privatization
08 May 2014
Over 100 community and labor members turned out to support Malden school custodians at a rally to keep quality services in local schools on May 5 in front of Malden City Hall. After the rally, many of the custodians and their supporters attended a meeting of the Malden School Committee.

"I'm really concerned about the Mayor's proposal to 'out-source' our jobs to a private contractor," said Paul Cutone at the rally. Cutone is a Senior Custodian at the Salemwood School with 20 years of service to the city. "As a lifelong Malden resident, I care deeply about my community and the services we provide."

Of the 28 school custodians, 57 percent live in Malden and another 29 percent live in contiguous communities. The custodians have an average of 16 years of service.

"The loss of these jobs will not only be devastating to all of us and our families, but to the entire community as well," Cutone continued. "Most of us are homeowners; we spend our money in Malden and pay taxes here. Outsourcing our jobs will lead to inferior quality of service with doubtful cost savings."

Jovan Walcott, a custodian and Malden resident said, "Others may know more about this, but I believe the city has over $1 million in a special rainy day fund. Can't they use that money to help us -- because it looks like it's raining to me!"

Other speakers at the rally included Steven Tolman, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO Rich Rodgers from the Greater Boston Labor Council and Malden Ward 2 Councillor Steven Ultrino. In addition to the many Local 888 members and Malden residents, there were members and representatives from IBEW Local 2222, the Somerville Labor Coalition, Mass Senior Action Council, SEIU 1199, SEIU Local 509, Carpenters Local 40, Jobs with Justice, MassUniting, Steelworkers Local 2431, UNITE HERE Local 26 and UAW Local 1596.

In addition to holding the community support rally, custodians recently sent a letter to many of Mayor Christenson's top political contributors, posing significant questions for him to answer regarding the outsourcing plan.

The custodian's union, SEIU Local 888, took out a full page ad in the Malden Observer on May 2 urging residents to raise their concerns about quality of service and losing local jobs with the mayor.

"The savings from outsourcing varies widely and often diminish over time," said Mark DelloRusso, President of Local 888. "The custodians go above and beyond in their service to the schools, while these private contractors often provide inferior service in their quest to maximize profits. We are not going to stand by idly and watch good local jobs be destroyed and dedicated staff forced on unemployment."

For a copy of the letter sent to the Mayor's top political contributors, the full-page newspaper ad and a fact sheet about the proposal.

SEIU Local 888 unites more than 8,000 public service, higher education and not-for-profit workers in Massachusetts for the good jobs and quality services our communities need. Learn more at:
Re: Video-Malden School Custodians Picket Against Privatization
09 May 2014
The Malden City Council unanimously voted in favor of a 'resolve' that the jobs of "janitors and cafeteria workers not be privatized." The measure was sponsored by Councillors Neil Kinnon and Barbara Murphy. The vote took place on May 6.

Councillor Kinnon said, "Only two out of 35 Malden School Department employees who make over $100,000 actually live in the city. I find it disturbing in light of the fact that over the last few years significant money has been given to the School Department. I have faith that those in the School Department can do the right thing.

"In the School Department, if you look at what has happened over the last twenty years -- and especially over the last ten years -- there has been a real acceleration of administrative salaries. Far more than inflation. As much as eight percent.

"Now we're going to layoff custodians? The majority of those people live in this community. The majority getting the big raises are the ones who are moneyed and don't live in this community. We should never be laying off people who have families and need to put food on the table. We should take care of those who live with us and among us first."

Video of the council members' discussion and vote on the resolve can be seen online at:

"While the resolve passed by the Malden City Council is nonbinding, this sends a clear message to the Mayor and the School Committee that outsourcing the custodian's jobs is wrong and not in the best interest of the city or the community," said Mark DelloRusso, President of Local 888.
Re: Video-Malden School Custodians Picket Against Privatization
10 Jun 2014
Malden, Mass. – Before a meeting of the Malden City Council on Tuesday, the city’s public schools’ custodians held a rally outside city hall calling for their jobs not to be privatized. Up to 28 custodians, who are part of the Service Employees International Union local 888, may be out of the job if the city’s schools follow the example of privatization of custodial services set at Malden High School.

Mark DelloRusso, president of the union local, claimed that Malden City Mayor Gary Christenson had assured him he would there would be a dialogue when the two year private contract at the high school was up for renewal, but DelloRusso said he “never called me, there was no oversight … [he] never said a word about it, [he] just went and outsourced my jobs.”

The union rally was also calling on the city council to move the city’s school custodial budget out of the school committee’s hands, and place it with the public facilities department, which they claim will improve the supervision of custodial work, and create better services as a result.

In a meeting on May 27, the city council voted against transferring control of the custodial budget to the Public Facilities department, however, following a motion to reconsider the vote by one of the city’s councilors at Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted 8 to 3 in favor of giving oversight of the custodians to the department.

DelloRusso said before the vote was taken that a vote in favor of the transfer would mean “at least we have a battle to save” the custodial jobs.

He says the mayor “can still veto” the city council vote, but claims that then “it’ll look like he got rid of the custodians as opposed to the school department, because he’s trying to make it look like the school system did it, not him, but we’re going to put it back in his court,” adding that “we want him to save all the jobs,” and not just those custodians with seniority.

Steve Krzywicki, a custodian at Beebe school in Malden for the last 20 years, told the rally, “right now we don’t even have bags for our barrels, we’re trying to order them, but we’re told that they’re not even approving the purchase orders.

“In the past we used to have 40 custodians, when they opened up the new schools, when they started privatizing the other schools, we went down to 28, so how do they expect us to clean the schools when we don’t even have the guys,” he continued.

In a press statement, Mayor Christenson’s office said it “will continue to work with the [c]ity [c]ouncil as we proceed through the budget process. We of course value each and every employee of the city and take seriously our commitment to those employees and the jobs they hold.

“We also want to ensure that we have clean schools for our children. And finally, we need to reach a responsible and balanced budget that is sustainable in the future. How we achieve these goals is an ongoing process that will continue,” the statement continues.

The public schools’ superintendent David DeRousi was also contacted for press statement in regard to the privatization of the union custodial jobs, but a response was not received prior to the filing of this report.