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Rally Wednesday in Issaquah to support library janitors

seiuISSAQUAH (Oct. 28, 2013) — The King County Library System has replaced its unionized janitors with non-union employees of National Maintenance Contractors (NMC). The replaced janitors’ union, Service Employee International Union Local 6, is holding a rally outside of the KCLS Board of Trustees meeting this Wednesday Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. at the KCLS administrative offices, 960 Newport Way in Issaquah. All union members and community supporters are urged to attend the rally and also join in the public meeting, which begins at 5 p.m., to comment on this issue and call for the dismissal of NMC.

KCLS has contracted with NMC for janitorial services, but NMC does not pay prevailing wages because they claim the workers are “independent contractors.” These workers are forced to purchase a franchise and purchase their own equipment and supplies. Following is a resolution adopted by the M.L. King County Labor Council with more information:

Resolution in support of KCLS Janitors
Adopted 9/18/13 by the MLKCLC

WHEREAS King County Library System (KCLS) and National Maintenance Contractors (NMC) have entered into a contract for janitorial services where both parties have a legal requirement to ensure prevailing wages are paid to janitors working at KCLS facilities; and

WHEREAS approximately 32 workers at KCLS facilities are not receiving prevailing wages because NMC claims they are “independent contractors” for which there is a loophole in the prevailing wage law; and

WHEREAS NMC has a history of preying on low-income, immigrant communities and has been involved in multiple lawsuits concerning workers’ rights; and

WHEREAS low-income independent contractors are frequently unable to contribute their full portion of Social Security and Medicare withholding and State Unemployment and Workers Compensation system contributions, despite being at high risk for on-the-job injuries. Therefore employer misclassification of workers as independent contractors is a serious concern of state governments and the IRS resulting in numerous lawsuits against NMC; and

WHEREAS a janitor cleaning KCLS libraries on a full-time basis (40 hours per week) is required to buy a franchise from NMC for approximately $20,000 for the first 5 years of work with NMC. In addition, franchisees are required to purchase their own equipment and supplies – a start-up kit is available from NMC for $3,716; and

WHEREAS NMC forwards KCLS payments to their franchisees after deducting 24% in fees. Additionally, 20 to 25% may be withheld if the franchisee has financed part of their buy-in fee with NMC; and

WHEREAS the KCLS Request for Proposal (RFP) for Custodial Services and contract section 4.1.2 requires that: All Goods/Services shall be provided by employees regularly employed by the contractor unless prior written permission is given by KCLS (it was not given for the NMC contract award); and

WHEREAS only franchise owners are exempt from earning prevailing wage. Franchisees are legally required to pay their employees the prevailing wage. However filings with L&I indicated an employee of a NMC franchisee earned $10 per hour (with no benefits) cleaning for KCLS (about half of the prevailing wage); and

WHEREAS, prior to the contract awarded to NMC in early 2013, KCLS janitors were union represented and received prevailing wage; be it therefore

RESOLVED that MLKCLC calls on KCLS to respect the intent of the prevailing wage law and terminate their Custodial Services contract with NMC and re-issue a RFP removing any option to use subcontractors.

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