ABM, SEIU helping WTC workers recover
Twenty-four members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ are still missing following attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers Sept. 11. Seventeen of those workers were employees of San-Francisco-based ABM Industries Inc., the World Trade Center’s (WTC) main facility services contractor. Those missing from ABM include 11 janitors, two window washers, three engineers and one structural engineer; none have been confirmed dead and names have not been released. Atlanta-based OneSource also lost one painting worker in the incident, but has not released further information.

Since Sept. 11, the union and ABM have worked around-the-clock to find surviving employees, support the families of those lost and provide for those who now are out of jobs due to the devastation in New York’s financial district.

“I think the whole company has stepped up and been more together than ever because of this tragic event,” says Slipsager. “It’s been an experience that I sure hope I won’t have ever again, but a very eye-opening and strengthening one.”

ABM continued to pay its World Trade Center workers full wages for a couple of weeks after the incident and is working to place as many of them as possible in new jobs, says CEO Henrick Slipsager.

Local 32BJ and the local Real Estate Advisory Board also has worked to provide extended unemployment benefits and health-insurance coverage for six months for WTC workers. The agreement also supplements unemployment for these workers until February 2002, which allows them to take home the equivalent of what they used to make, until they find new jobs, says Slipsager.

Veteran ABM employees who still have not found work would replace less tenured workers in the company’s other accounts in the area, he adds.

Local 32BJ had 350 workers in the towers Sept. 11. More than 250 of those workers were ABM employees, a fraction of the company’s total WTC staff of 800.

ABM and other 32BJ employers have created a priority list of displaced WTC workers who will have first chance at new opportunities that open up in the area. ABM already signed a contract with Trinity Church in Manhattan Oct. 3.

“We are trying to secure new business in New York even more aggressively right now to ensure that our managers and supervisors keep working for us,” says Slipsager. “A lot of good people were affected and hopefully we can add some new business quickly to stop the bleeding from this tragedy.”

ABM also has established an ABM Family Fund Trust to help immediate relatives of employees killed in the attack. The company will donate $2 for every $1 contributed, up to $250,000. Tax-deductible contributions can be made by check to The ABM Family Fund Trust, Rincon Annex Box 193224, San Francisco, Calif., 94119.

The SEIU also is taking donations to its September 11 Relief Fund for families of workers affected by the terrorist attacks. As of Oct. 4, the fund had raised more than $1 million, but much more will be necessary to address the needs of an estimated 2,000 workers who have lost their jobs in the area since the incident, says local president Michael Fishman. Contributions can be sent to SEIU September 11th Relief Fund, c/o Local 32BJ, SEIU, 101 Avenue of the Americas,New York, NY 10013.

ABM also serviced other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, the World Financial Center, the American Express Center and Meryll Lynch headquarters housed in the World Financial Center, all of which were affected by the incident. Some businesses have relocated and brought ABM’s staff with them , but remaining displaced workers will have fewer extended benefits than WTC staff, says Slipsager.

NISH workers safe at U.S. Pentagon
All workers from Dunn Loring, Va.-based NISH, an agency that works with contractors who employ severely disabled and blind workers, are reported safe and accounted for after the Sept. 11th terrorist attack on the Pentagon, says NISH spokeswoman Mary Jane Williamson.

Two agencies were working with NISH to clean the Pentagon under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day program, which seeks to employ severely disabled individuals under government contracts.

Baltimore-based Chimes International Ltd. had 55 janitors working in the Pentagon at the time of the attack; five were near where the airplane struck. “We had two reported sprains, and nothing else, thank God,” reports Albert Bussone, vice president and chief operating officer. In fact, all Chimes employees were able to return to their jobs at the Pentagon for the next shift following the crash.
Didlake Inc., another NISH BSC based in Manassas, Va., also had staff in the Pentagon, but did not return phone calls.
SEIU Local 82 also reports no union members were injured because they worked in other sections of the Pentagon.

Omni founder Browne among WTC missing
Bettina (Betty) Browne, founder and former CEO of Omni Facility Resources, a New Jersey-based facility maintenance contractor is among the thousands of Americans still missing after two planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s twin towers Sept. 11.

Browne was visiting AON Corp., an insurance brokerage that was one of the largest tenants of Two World Trade Center, when the planes crashed. The last contact anyone had with Browne was a phone call she made to her husband Ed prior to the incidents, says Mike Bielonko, chief financial officer for Omni.

Browne used to work for AON prior to entering the building services industry and had many friends there. The company also provided coverage for Omni. So the exact nature of her visit that day still is undetermined, says Bielonko.

Browne founded Omni in 1998, with $55 million in venture capital; today, the company represents more than $150 million in revenues, with more than 3,000 employees across 25 states. She also is a former U.S. executive of ISS Service Systems A/S, a large, Danish service provider that is now known as OneSource.

During the last year, Browne worked to distance herself from managing the everyday operations of Omni, bringing in chief operating officer Dick Cottrill to handle the job. He subsequently became CEO. Browne had since spent time working on special marketing projects and arbitration cases for Omni, says Bielonko.

“Dick has been running the business day to day and it continues to run smoothly,” he adds. “But we have a number of employees at Omni who personally knew the family and they are taking it hard, as expected.”

People wishing to send condolences can do so to Browne’s family: Mr. Edward A Radburn, 1682 Park Street, Atlantic Beach, NY, 11509.

For more information regarding Browne’s career or how she founded Omni click here.

Mergers&Other Moves

  • The ServiceMaster Co., Downers Grove, Ill., will sell its Management Services business, which serves institutional customers, to Philadelphia-based ARAMARK Corp. for $800 million, with net after-tax cash proceeds of approximately $600 million. The all-cash transaction is expected to close by mid-November after obtaining regulatory approvals.

    ServiceMaster also plans to sell its TruGreen LandCare landscape construction division to Calabasas, Calif.-based Environmental Industries Inc. TruGreen’s lawn and landscape maintenance divisions will remain with ServiceMaster.

    The company is divesting itself of smaller divisions to help concentrate on its more profitable residential services, according to a news release.

  • Mitch Murch’s Maintenance Management Co. (MMMM), St. Louis, has purchased Mid-America Pro Clean (MAPC). MAPC veteran Dan Cline II will serve as regional vice president of MMMM, and will maintain the same roles he has had in MAPC, but with more financial, management and administrative resources. With this acquisition, MMMM now has more than 2 million square feet of office property, corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities under contract in the Kansas City area.

  • Powr-Flite, Fort Worth, Texas, and Soft Vac Corp., Silver Spring, Md., have announced a partnership that will equip seven Powr-Flite model vacuums with Soft Vac facility protection covers.


  • In the August issue of Contracting Profits, (Mergers & Other Moves, p. 6), Aurora, Colo.-based KIMCO Corp. should have been listed as a partner in the Facility Service Alliance contract with Kmart Corp.

E-Tickets Under New Scrutiny
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented guidelines requiring passengers to show proof of a valid ticket to get past security checkpoints in airports.

Although the FAA is allowing airlines to decide what constitutes that proof, it is encouraging customers to check in at ticket counters instead of at gates.

These measures present a new hurdle for passengers holding electronic tickets. Before Sept. 11, e-ticket holders who didn’t have to check luggage (or who used curbside or off-site check-in) could proceed directly to their gates to receive boarding passes.

Some airlines are allowing e-ticket passengers to print out confirmations of their receipts to show as proof, but travelers should check with their airlines. Most passengers still will need to arrive at the airport at least two hours before their flight times.