Some custodians remain in job limbo

Jan. 20, 2011, 2:01 a.m.

Stanford’s transition to a new contractor for campus custodial services on Dec. 1 created complications for a small number of custodial employees, who are now scheduled to enter an arbitration process through the employees’ union and the new subcontractor, UGL (UNICCO).

News of the change in contractors sparked e-mail petitions throughout the school and a lunchtime protest claiming that employees of the previous contractor, ABM, would not be guaranteed job security or seniority in the transition. Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82 called those claims “not accurate” at an ASSU joint legislative meeting on Dec. 1.

UGL is required by union contract to offer all ABM employees the chance to stay on with the same seniority, wages and benefits they held previously. In the rehiring process, however, “several dozen” of the 134 ABM employees did not initially pass the security background check or the identity verification required by federal law, said Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin. Since then, at least 18 have been rehired, and the rest are being given 120 days to obtain the necessary documentation required to work legally in the U.S., Lapin said.

The University re-bids the school’s janitorial contract every few years, according to Etchemendy, and it’s “not uncommon” for a new company to replace the current one.

At the Dec. 1 meeting, Etchemendy said 19 employees still had problems with their identification. Justine Griffin, a UGL spokeswoman, said “less than 20 percent” of the 134 employees still have problems and are going through an arbitration process to resolve their identification issues. All employees going through arbitration remain employed in the meantime, Griffin said.

The arbitration process, according to union agreement, is worked out between the union and UGL and brings in a third party. Griffin said the process should be resolved by late April or early May.
Contact Ellen Huet at [email protected].

Ellen Huet is currently a senior staff writer at The Daily; she joined the staff in fall 2008 and served one volume as managing news editor in fall and early winter of 2010-2011. Reach her at ehuet at stanford dot edu. Fan mail and sternly worded complaints are equally welcome.

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