The U.S. Senate has approved legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade.

Under the bill, minimum wage would increase from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over the next two years. The first increase, to $5.85, would occur within 60 days of the bill’s enactment. It would increase to $6.55 one year later and finally increase to $7.25 a year after that.

The bill also extends tax cuts for small businesses, including tax credits to businesses that hire disadvantaged workers and an extension of expense deductions.

Minimum wage legislation without the tax cuts was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in January. In a news release President Bush says he encourages “the House to support this combined minimum wage increase and small business tax relief.”

An increase in the federal minimum wage will hit some building service contractors harder than others. Currently 29 states have minimum wages higher than the federal rate. However, even if BSCs pay workers more than the federal minimum wage, an increase still could affect their business, says Mark Klein, senior vice president, Sunshine Cleaning Systems Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and government affairs chairman for Building Service Contractors Association International. If low-level employees see an increase in wages, supervisors and upper-management workers will expect their wages to be increased accordingly as well, he explains.

It will be difficult for BSCs to absorb all of the new costs associated with an increase. They will need to pass on some or all of the additional costs to customers.

BSCs can take a proactive approach by notifying their customers now of the potential wage increase and how it may affect their existing contract, says Klein. If contracts have to be rebid, the wage increase will level out the playing field because all contractors will be required to pay higher wages, adds Klein.

More Buildings To Pursue LEED

Building service contractors offering green cleaning may be able to help more potential clients earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

First, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has established a policy requiring all campus construction to be built to the LEED Silver Standard as part of AASHE’s support of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

USGBC also reports that San Francisco is proposing a requirement for new privately developed buildings to meet LEED standards.

Green Seal To Revise GS-37 Standard

Green Seal is undergoing a comprehensive review and revision of GS-37, its environmental standard for institutional and industrial cleaning products. The revision is expected to take a year and will include a formal public review halfway through the process.

GS-37 was first developed in 2000, and since that time technology has improved and new information concerning emissions, endocrine disruptors and asthmagens has arisen. Also, New York State has passed green legislation in schools that includes the use of GS-37 products, and issues have been raised about its adequacy in protecting the health of school-age children.

“The primary goal of revising GS-37 is to ensure that it continues to represent an environmental leadership standard in the marketplace and to incorporate criteria that fully protect human health, including that of children and custodial workers,” stated Arthur Weissman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Green Seal Inc., in a news release.

The review will be managed by Green Seal, with the help of an executive committee that includes New York State; the Healthy Schools Network, Inc.; Routt Reigard, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina; TerraChoice, administrator of the EcoLogo Program; and ISSA. The University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies will assist in research and development.

Mergers & Other Moves
  • Nilfisk-Advance, Plymouth, Minn., has acquired U.S. Products, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. U.S. Products will continue to manufacture and distribute equipment under its own brand names at its facility.

  • Tacony Corp. St. Louis, has acquired Tornado Industries Inc., Chicago, and Truvox Int’l, Southampton, England. Both newly acquired companies will continue operations in their current locations.

  • Minneapolis-based Tennant Co. has acquired Floorep Limited, a privately owned cleaning equipment company based in the United Kingdom.

  • Superior Manufacturing Group (SMG) has purchased the Food Service Matting Division of Teknor Apex and as a result of the acquisition, SMG has formed the NoTrax Food Service Matting Division.

  • Newton, Mass.-based Unicco Service Co. has become an affiliate member of Service Management International (SMI). This gives Unicco exclusive rights to provide facilities services to SMI consortium customers in North America.

  • St. Moritz Building Services, Pittsburgh, Pa., has acquired Building Services Group LLC, Raleigh, N.C.


Tennant Co.
, Minneapolis, has been chosen to receive a Governor’s Award for Excellence in Waste and Pollution Prevention. The award honors superior environmental achievement by Minnesota businesses that have developed innovative practices that prevent pollution and waste, improve resource efficiency and lead to sustainability. Tennant is being recognized for reducing waste and pollution at its own facilities as well as helping its customers to reduce and prevent waste and pollution through the company’s product technologies.

Despite facing additional costs from increasing prices of products, gas and labor, a recent survey finds that while most building service contractors have raised their bid and service price charges in the past three years, only 36 percent indicate that these charges are “more than 10 percent higher.” Just over 20 percent of respondents say their proposals are “less than 10 percent higher.” The majority of respondents, almost 40 percent, say their prices are “about the same.” Only 3 percent say their bid prices are lower today.

The survey was conducted by Tornado Industries, Chicago.