This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The District is making plans to privatize a portion of its 1,300-member custodial workforce, despite union opposition.
"We’re looking at privatization of new hires and replacements, hiring companies who hire union workers," Vallas said. He said current custodial staff would not be displaced. Vallas said his big concern was high absenteeism rates.
With the exception of the teachers’ union, all the District’s union contracts must be renegotiated this summer. Local 1201 President Tom Doyle says the District will have a "war" on its hands if it tries to pursue privatization. Local 1201 also represents bus drivers and building engineers.
Vallas said he was not considering any privatization of food service, transportation workers, or trade work. The District recently moved to privatize the staff of its data center, part of its informational technology department.
A 2002 report by the Keystone Research Center stated that School District maintenance costs were average or below average for large school districts and that "no credible evidence that sizable cost-savings opportunities exist in the maintenance and operations division."
"Any savings that are attainable would likely turn family-sustaining jobs into poverty-wage jobs," the report concluded.