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Northville Schools' Custodial Employees Laid Off, Will Work Until December

The layoffs were expected following the school board's decision in September to privatize janitorial services with a private firm.

Northville's school board voted to lay off 43 custodial employees last week.

The job cuts – which were expected following the board’s decision in September to hire the private firm Grand Rapids Building Services (GRBS) – are said to save about $800,000, according to estimates by school administrators.

School Board President Joan Wadsworth said the decision was a difficult one to make.

“As the names were read, you can see the (board's) faces,” she said. “It’s very difficult.”

The layoffs will be effective Dec. 26, and the holiday break will be used to transition from the district’s full-time staff to the staff of GRBS, the private firm that was awarded the custodial contract.

Under GRBS, the positions will pay $9.25 to $12.00, and district employees will be given an opportunity to interview with GRBS, said Dan Chisolm, the president of the Teamsters local.

“One of our guys went up there to interview, and they didn’t even know what they would be willing to pay,” he said. “They’re just offering interviews – there’s no promises.”

The custodial department was not the only employee group that was privatized. was also privatized earlier this year. Chisolm said he believes the food service employees will also be privatized for the 2012-13 school year.

leaving soon November 15, 2011 at 05:57 AM
The company could not promise hours or rate of pay. They may have given us the opportunity but they really did not want us. So makes you wonder what else is promised but won't happen. Like 800,000$.
Possum November 15, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Merry Christmas from the school board via the legislature.
Denise Nash November 15, 2011 at 03:35 PM
@Tom you beat me to that comment. This is heartless. The middle class will be gone, and with it the "American way of life" if this continues.
Herb Helzer November 16, 2011 at 05:33 PM
These will be very expensive and time-consuming experiments, testing the purported value of privatized services -- first buses, now janitorial -- in Northville Public Schools. There are many intangibles that will come from paying custodians a maximum of $12.00/hour. Consider turnover. At that pay, it's likely few, if any, GRBS employees will think of their job as a career. How many of the new custodians will relocate to Northville -- move their families, buy a home, get involved in our community? If GRBS has to cycle in new custodians every few months, you can bet quality -- that is, the cleanliness and beauty of our schools -- will suffer. Finally, what checks are there to prevent GRBS grasping for those final few dollars in profit by hiring undocumented immigrants?
Northville Mom November 16, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Heard Hartland School staff is not satisfied with GRBS. Employees are embarrassed about the condition of their school.
ConcernedParent November 17, 2011 at 04:50 PM
We can't afford to pay our janitorial staff a living wage, but we can afford astro turf. Great prioritization on behalf of the school board.
Northville Mom November 17, 2011 at 07:52 PM
I agree, do we really need astro turf! They just replaced the sod a couple years ago.
Herb Helzer November 17, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Not putting in the artificial turf would not have saved the custodial jobs. The new playing field surface is being paid for via the new Sinking Fund millage passed in May -- funds which CANNOT be applied to payroll or day-to-day expenses.
vivi November 23, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Why is the Sinking Fund being used for this? Someone else said it's all private money. Which is it, because if it's my tax dollars, I object. I object, anyway, because it's a luxury purchase and at the very lease, insensitive timing, since people are losing their jobs.

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