BSCAI Calls For Enhanced Labor-Law Enforcement
Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), as part of an ongoing initiative and specifically in response to recent immigration enforcement, issued a general call for increased federal activity on worker misclassification.

“BSCAI members are responsible business people who want to treat and pay our workers as employees, not independent contractors, in compliance with longstanding industry practice,” writes executive vice president Carol Dean in a release on behalf of the association. “With alarming progression, some industry contractors are deliberately misclassifying their janitorial workers as ‘independent contractors’ — a practice known in our industry as ‘illegal subcontracting.’”

This misclassification, writes Dean, not only deprives state and federal governments of tax revenue and workers of basic rights and protections (including wage minimums and insurance), but also leads to law-abiding companies being undercut by as much as 40 percent on a typical contract.

“BSCAI has engaged the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding the appropriate classification of building services workers as employees, including the joint development of training materials and guidance for IRS field workers,” writes Dean. “Any reasonable interpretation of the factors used to determine wither a worker is an employee or independent contractor clearly indicate[s] that workers in the building services industry are employees.”

This includes cases in which employers have tried to “imbue workers with the technical trappings of independent contractor status, such as written contracts and franchise fees.”

Dean draws a distinction between the many legitimate franchise and subcontractor relationships that flourish in the industry and those what are simply schemes to avoid proper classification.

“However, the intentional misclassficiation of employer-trained and employer-directed janitorial workers ... results in an inequitable application of the employment tax laws, and endangers the ability of our members to continue hiring those who are transitioning into the workforce.”

BSCAI hopes recent immigration enforcement will bring a discussion of broader immigration and worker-misclassification issues into the forefront.

IICRC Changes Committee
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), Vancouver, Wash., has announced several changes to its Standards Committee.

After 13 years of service, Larry Cooper, president of Textile Consultant Inc., has stepped down as IICRC Standards Committee Chairman. Barry Costa, president of Costa Group Inc., is the new IICRC Standards Committee Chairman. Cooper has been retained by the IICRC as a consultant to the Standards Committee.

Costa has reorganized the structure of the individual standards sub-committees, announcing the appointment new of sub-committees chairs and vice chairs: IICRC S520 Mold Remediation Standard and Reference Guide chairman Robert Baker and vice chairman Clifford Grost; IICRC S500 Professional Water Damage Restoration Standard and Reference Guide chairman Howard Wolf and Vice Chairman Rusty Amarante; S300 Professional Upholstery Cleaning Standard and Reference Guide chairman Joey Pickett and vice chairman Lonnie McDonald.

The committee is currently working on updates to two standards and accepting comments for a pending update to a third, as well as producing eight mold-remediation workshops.

OSHA Offers Regulatory-Help Tools
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now has two new resources on its Web site to help business owners comply with ever-changing regulations:

The first, MyOSHA, allows users create personalized links to specific online resources. It also features a tutorial, and rotating eTips, educational tidbits about the site that appear at the top of the customized page.

The other new tool, Quick Start, provides step-by-step guidance on how to identify OSHA requirements and guidance materials that may apply to specific workplaces. It includes a module for workplaces that are subject to OSHA's general industry standards; the module includes information on OSHA's recordkeeping and reporting requirements and provides links to compliance assistance resources, forms, key standards and program-development information.

The agency also offers assistance in more traditional forms, including one-on-one consultation on-site and telephone consultations. For more information, or call 1-800-321-OSHA.

K-Tech Kleening Systems, Weston, Wis., a provider of commercial and residential cleaning and environmental purity applications, has acquired Armstrong Cleaning of Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

"We are very excited about this new opportunity and welcome Armstrong Cleaning and it’s employees into the K-tech Family. We intend to continue offering the current Armstrong Cleaning services and introduce new services that will benefit Sturgeon Bay, Green Bay and the Fox Valley. This will allow us to serve Eastern Wisconsin in a much larger capacity", said Craig Kersemeier, President, K-tech Kleening Systems.

Rieke Corp., Auburn, Ind., has accepted a settlement offer from Airspray International B.V. involving Airspray’s rights to foamer- product patents.

Prior to settlement, Rieke defeated Airspray in a German patent- infringement suit and the companies faced a similar lawsuit in the United States. The companies agreed to settle the remaining legal issues to avoid further expense.

As part of the settlement, Airspray dismisses all of its remaining legal claims against Rieke Corporation and further covenants not to sue Rieke for Rieke’s sale of its foamer product line in the territories including Europe, North America and South America.

Environmental associations merge

The International Association of Mold Remediation Specialists (IAMRS), Washington, announced the merger of its membership into the world's largest environmental charity focusing on environmental, health and safety issues. This merger will pave the way for the nearly 500 members of IAMRS to provide a new depth and breadth to the Environmental Education Foundation's (EEF), Houston, existing membership base of more than 5,000.

The merger of IAMRS into the EEF is to be fully complete within a few months. IAMRS board of directors will be taking key strategic roles in the EEF, including committee chair positions and selected appointments to various federal and state agency committee the EEF enjoys.

Ettore Co-Founder Steccone Passes Away
Emma Steccone, co-founder and chairman of Ettore Products Co., Oakland, Calif., passed away December 7, 2003. She was 89.

Steccone was the wife of Ettore Steccone. Together they began manufacturing squeegees out of their garage in 1936. The company grew into what is now an international operation. Ettore passed away in 1984, but Emma continued to be active within the company until her death.

Emma is survived by her daughter, Diane Steccone Smahlik, and her son-in-law Michael Smahlik, CEO of Ettore. She is also survived by two grandchildren, Nicole and Chris Smahlik.

Backpack-vac maker ProTeam, Boise, Id., has applied to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to register as a trademark the phrase, “Vacuuming for Health.”

The company already has trademarked “Cleaning for Health.”

ProTeam also has formed a unique, multi-year partnership (2002 through 2005) with the American Lung Association to educate the public about indoor air quality issues.

Coverall Announces Top Franchisees
Coverall Cleaning Concepts, a franchiser based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has announced its Franchise Owner of the Year Award winners. Recipients of the award, who received a $1,000 check and a plaque, were Amie Jumanan in San Diego for the Best Small Category; Virgilio DeLaCruz in New Jersey, Best Medium Category; and Anthony Long, Washington, D.C., Best Large Category.

Honorable mentions include Sally Smith (southern Ohio); Louis and Patricia Marin (southwest Florida); Timothy Noble (Cleveland); Josefina Aramburo (Las Vegas); and James Bennett (southwest Florida).

Each regional support center nominated their top franchise owners based on criteria such as account retention, certification training and referrals. A panel of judges selected the winners.