Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Workers Facing Layoffs Come A-Caroling to Rahm's House

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Christian Farr talks to one airport worker whose future will be affected by a decision by the city to switch airport janitorial service vendors.

    The holiday spirit isn't lost on the 350 janitors and workers slated to lose their jobs this week.

    Dozens of O’Hare International Airport employees plan to sing carols outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood home Thursday night as a way to ask him to reconsider awarding a $99 million contract to another company.

    Mayor Responds to Questions About Alleged Mob Ties in O'Hare Contract

    [CHI] Mayor Responds to Questions About Alleged Mob Ties in O'Hare Contract
    "I would note that that same company has a number of contracts with high rises downtown in the city of Chicago with SEIU," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday. "So, there's a fuller story, a more complete story. There's more than just one side to this story."

    The workers have been to Emanuel's house before.

    They showed up at the home on the mayor's birthday last month to express their frustration with the contract being given to an entity they said doesn't pay a living wage, something the mayor's office has disputed. The protesters held 52 candles in honor of Emanuel's birthday and sang "Happy Birthday" in English, Spanish and Polish, the languages spoken by the workers.

    Last month Emanuel's administration awarded the O'Hare cleaning contract to United Maintenance, replacing Scrub, Inc., whose contract expired June 30. The move has since led to a number of protests and cries of mob ties linked to the new deal.

    Emanuel has said the contract went through a competitive bidding process that he said resulted in work for the Service Employees International Union and the hiring of about 100 former employees

    He skirted questions about a vice president at United Service Companies serving time in 1987 in the same corruption case as late mobster Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo and the owner of United Service partnering in the past with alleged mob figure William Daddano Jr.

    "I would note that that same company has a number of contracts with high rises downtown in the city of Chicago with SEIU," Emanuel said. "So, there's a fuller story, a more complete story. There's more than just one side to this story."

    A city spokesperson said the deal was made in an open and fair process "to select the contractor with the focus on getting a fair and efficient deal for taxpayers."

    "United Maintenance is working with the existing employees to offer them opportunities. The City is confident that the quality of service at the airport will be high," the spokesperson said.