Thursday, April 22, 2010

Local union alleges that public schools director met for months w/private contractors and relied on their projections before proposing to privatize

From SEIU Local 205, the union that represents Metro service workers:
SEIU Local 205 released a series of internal emails that reveal that administrators at Metro Nashville Public Schools have been working behind closed doors to push forward a plan to privatize custodians and groundskeepers as far back as November, 2009. The union also found that Dr. Register’s statements of a $5 million dollar cost savings to the district were based on a claim made by one of the contractors who is bidding on the project, not through a scientific cost-benefit analysis or impact study (see page 1 of Attachment, Item #3).

As a result of an information request from MNPS, union officials discovered that school administrators have been contacting and meeting in secret with representatives of GCA Services Group, based in Knoxville, with regards to outsourcing as far back as November 18, 2009, though even those emails indicate that there had been previous communications before that. Register had not mentioned any interest or inclination in privatizing these two departments until he released his budget on March 11. “Register has said that the reason he wants to outsource 700 custodial workers’ jobs is because of the economy, but he was negotiating with a contractor months before anyone even knew what the city’s revenue was,” said Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205, who represents support staff in Metro Schools. “Keep in mind that Register has privatized custodial services in his previous positions in Chattanooga and in North Carolina. He didn’t use the economy as his excuse then because he couldn’t. Now he could, and he has.”

Largely because of assurances by Dr. Register and School Board member Steve Glover that a savings would be seen, the Board narrowly voted to accept the budget by a vote of 5-4. “Dr. Register has not been a straight shooter with the School Board who hired him or with the public,” says Teresa West, a food service employee at MNPS. “He is claiming some kind of dire economic emergency, but now we know that he was just out to privatize our jobs.” West says that the $5 million savings that Register claims will happen from the privatization will have to be paid by taxpayers anyway since many custodians will have to go on public assistance once they lose their jobs or see their pay and benefits cut. “Because of his drive for privatization, Register has opened the district up to lawsuits since 88% of the workers affected are minorities and because GCA may have been given an unfair advantage in the bidding process.”

GCA Services, the company that school administrators were in contact with, is expected to bid on the custodial and groundskeeping contracts since their representatives were present at a March 26 question and answer session for prospective contractors. The bidding period on the contracts close this Friday.

Mayor Dean has yet to present his schools budget to the Metro Council and he has not taken a position on whether or not he will support the School Board’s proposal to outsource nearly 700 custodians and groundskeepers. He has until May 1 to present his version of the budget to the Council.


  1. The Mayor came as close as one can to endorsing the schools move to lay off the custodians Go to this link and read the citypaper article.

  2. Here is the link: