PLAINFIELD – A controversial proposal to outsource custodians at Plainfield School District 202 was avoided as the board and custodians’ union reached a new agreement.
The agreement between the board and the Plainfield Association Support Staff is one that Board President Michelle Smith said at Monday’s meeting will “result in significant savings for the district over the next three years” but that PASS President John Piechocinski stated in a news release is “bittersweet at best.”
Since district officials announced in early February that they were considering outsourcing custodial services to save money, the proposal was met with rallying and criticism from PASS members.
Under the agreement the board approved Monday – and that PASS voted in favor of Saturday – custodians will continue to receive their pay, workers’ compensation coverage, health insurance and retirement benefits through District 202, according to a news release.
District officials emphasized in a news release that the agreement could save $1.8 million in costs a year.
However, custodial positions will be restructured and their numbers will be lowered and certain positions will make less while the pay for some others will remain the same.
“Yes, we have preserved the jobs of our dedicated school custodial staff,” Piechocinski said in statement. “But we did so by reducing salaries and sick leave, and by cutting the number of employees who are currently available to serve the students and schools.”
He also stated the reductions under the agreement will make “attracting and retaining great employees a more difficult challenge in the future.”
District officials said the agreement will be incorporated into the new PASS contract being negotiated.
Smith said in a statement – after the board voted on the agreement Monday – that the board was compelled by its fiduciary duty to taxpayers to “fully explore the difference between our existing internal custodian staffing model and the outsourcing option.”
She said the board has been prepared to bargain all relevant aspects of potential outsourcing with PASS and the board bargaining team developed an initial plan that was competitive with the bids received to avoid outsourcing. The agreement will result in significant savings for District 202 over the next three years and keep custodians employed by the district, she said.
“As all issues between the board and PASS related to outsourcing are now resolved, the board will take action to terminate the pending bid process and will recall the honorably dismissed custodians,” Smith said.
The district received custodial services bids from ABM, Aramark and GCA Services Group.
At the April 25 meeting, PASS representatives gave the board an analysis of the bids and raised the possibility of litigation – concerning the legality of the current bidding process – if district officials accepted one of the bids.