Most will lose jobs at Algiers schools
Saturday, June 05, 2010
By Jenny Hurwitz
West Bank bureau
New Orleans Times-Picayune via nola.com
Waving signs and chanting loudly, a group of disgruntled janitors staged a small demonstration Friday outside the main office of the Algiers Charter Schools Association, questioning the association's decision to ditch their company and hire a more expensive one for maintenance and janitorial work next year.
The dozen or so picketing janitors, who work for the custodial and maintenance company GCA Services Group, said they didn't understand why ACSA had refused GCA's bid of $2.168 million for the upcoming year of service, thereby putting about 60 employees out of work. Instead, ACSA hired commercial cleaning company Jani-King, which submitted a bid of $2.257 million.
"To me, it's a very underhanded thing," said Helen White, 68, who until last week worked as a custodian at Edna Karr High School in Algiers. "Nobody even let me know. I had to find out through my co-workers."
ACSA CEO Andrea Thomas-Reynolds said seven companies submitted bids for the work, which includes custodial, facilities maintenance and grounds maintenance duties across the association's nine schools. Of those seven companies, two submitted bids that were higher than Jani-King's. Four contractors, including GCA, submitted bids that were lower.
However, Thomas-Reynolds said the lower bids were "not realistic" in terms of what the school district had traditionally paid for such services. The lowest bid, which came in at $946,000, covered only a portion of the services required, she said. According to data from the past four years, the association realistically anticipated paying between $2 million and $2.4 million, since bid prices tend to fluctuate throughout the length of the contract, she said.
The board of trustees decided to move forward with a new vendor, based on feedback from each school's leadership team, Thomas-Reynolds said.
"It was basically a business decision, nothing more and nothing less," she said.
Thomas-Reynolds said a GCA employee was present at the May board meeting, when the contract decision was made. ACSA officials also notified GCA to let officials know that Jani-King had been selected. It was GCA's responsibility to alert its employees, not ACSA's, she said.
Still, the janitors said they are suspicious of ACSA's motives, given the price discrepancy. They are also concerned about their professional futures. While Jani-King might hire a handful of workers back, the company is offering only about 10 part-time openings and no benefits.
"My livelihood is being put on hold," said Matthew Haynes, 59, lead custodian at Edna Karr High. "And it's not just me -- 60 more are going through the same scenario."
. . . . . . .
Jenny Hurwitz can be reached at