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Daniel Boone wins contract, loses jobs out outsourcing

A year after the Daniel Boone Area School Board voted to outsource the jobs of 30 school district "lunch ladies," the board voted 9-0 

to outsource another 35 jobs belonging to groundskeepers, custodians and maintenance workers.

A week later, the board and remaining union members -- 50 secretaries, classroom aides, technology assistants and van drivers -- ratified a three-year contract.

Their agreement provided signing bonuses on July 1 and a total of five percent in raises, plus step movement, one additional paid holiday for classroom assistants and an additional sick day for all members. Employees will pay two percent more for health insurance in the final two of three years of the contract, but will see no increase in prescription, dental or vision care costs.

The soon-to-be outsourced employees, most of whom live, pay taxes and vote in the district, are to be offered jobs by the contractor, GCA Services Group, for up to 25 percent less money, inferior healthcare and no pension. Many of the long-time employees chose to take jobs in neighboring districts and continue to be part of the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System and several chose to retire. 

The union, Daniel Boone Federation of Support Staff, Local 4954, took a half-page ad in the Reading Eagle on May 9 urging the district not to hand over their jobs to GCA, which is owned by Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Read the ad here. 

GCA does not have a reputation as a good corporate citizen in many of the communities in which it holds contracts. GCA has a less-than-stellar B2 credit rating from Moody's Investor Services because of the company's high debt and "likelihood of default." Click here to read the report.

Job-search website lists nearly 700 reviews of the company by current and former GCA employees - many janitorial workers saying the pay was low, healthcare was expensive and poor or nonexistent and the company management was "disorganized" and "didn't know now to communicate" and there was no opportunity for advancement. Employees complained of "slave" and "minimum" wages and high employee turnover, which could result in transient workers without legally required clearances working around children.

Finally, an investigation into GCA by AFSCME found complaints about dirty classrooms; undocumented workers and employees with criminal backgrounds being placed in schools - putting children in danger; OSHA violations; NLRB findings that GCA intimidated workers who wanted to unionize; plunging existing school employees in New Haven, CT, into poverty; and failure to file business tax returns (Philadelphia) and making large corporate political contributions. Check out the AFSCME Local 2865 report on Facebook.

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