As questions mounted about alleged mob ties at a company that won a new custodial services deal at O’Hare International Airport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to change the subject by suspending three companies unrelated to the janitor pact.
In recent days, officials at Service Employees International Union Local 1 have called for investigations into alleged mob ties at United Maintenance Inc., which got a $99 million airport contract.
Paul Fosco, a vice president at United Maintenance’s parent company, went to prison following 1987 charges of racketeering conspiracy related to a scheme to swindle the Laborers Union through manipulation of lucrative benefit plans. Alleged former Chicago outfit boss Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo was charged in the same case as Fosco, but acquitted.
Asked Wednesday whether it’s appropriate for the company to have the five-year deal in light of Fosco’s conviction, Emanuel pointed out the contract was competitively bid, and said his administration will “have a vigorous enforcement and make sure everybody lives by and appropriately stands by the law.”
Company spokesman Anthony D’Angelo released a statement saying Fosco has been with the company for about two decades, and started working there 16 years before company president Richard Simon completed his purchase of the firm in 2009.
“The company employs over 5,000 professionals nationally, including several hundred retired and part time police officers, as well as retired FBI agents, myself being one of them,” D’Angelo’s statement reads in part. “I currently serve as Director of Corporate Governance for the company and can tell you that Paul has been a good employee.”
Emanuel didn’t respond directly to questions about Fosco’s background on Wednesday, instead telling reporters the city would be cracking down on other companies that circumvent city payment rules.
The city later announced three demolition companies — Spirit Wrecking and Excavation, General Wrecking and All-Time Wrecking and Hauling — have been suspended from bidding for city work because they were found to be in violation of the city’s prevailing wage ordinance.
A key complaint by the SEIU is that United Maintenance plans to undercut prevailing wage rules by laying off higher paid janitorial workers with more seniority at O’Hare or forcing them to re-apply for their jobs at lower wages.
The union urged Emanuel to instead award the contract to a company that will provide better wages and job protection for the roughly 320 union janitors at O’Hare. Union members marched outside Emanuel’s house to protest the pact on his 53rd birthday last week, and joined clergy members in a prayer vigil outside his City Hall office Tuesday.
Laura Garza, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 1, released a statement Wednesday saying the mayor was trying to draw attention away from the airport contract.
“The mayor will pay airport janitors and window washers $11.90 an hour — a pay cut of 25 percent for the vast majority of the current workforce, who make more than $15 an hour. Most of these jobs will pay more than $7,000 less each year,” Garza’s statement reads.
United Maintenance has contended it plans to offer “the prevailing wage and better benefits than employees now receive,” and to encourage current O'Hare janitors to apply for jobs under the new deal.
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