BSCAI Joins Alliance With OSHA
After 14 months of negotiation, the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“BSCAI is proud to be leading the building service contracting industry with this innovative OSHA alliance,” says BSCAI executive vice president Carol A. Dean, in a media release. “This alliance will help further our joint objective of improving communication with our workers regarding safety issues.”

OSHA and BSCAI agreed to work together to identify resources and develop new training programs and materials on ergonomics and hazardous materials. Case studies, round-table discussions and forums also are on tap.

This alliance is part of the Bush Administration’s Alliance Program, focusing on building trusting cooperative relationships between OSHA and industry groups; creating opportunities for industry to network with other groups committed to workplace safety and heath; leveraging resources to maximize worker safety and health protection through education and training; and increasing industry visibility as proactive leaders in safety and health. More than 250 industry groups have signed on to the Alliance Program; BSCAI is the first in the building services and maintenance industry to do so.

Guilty Plea in $100M Scam
Illinois businessman James Duff recently pleaded guilty to federal charges that he fraudulently won $100 million in Chicago city contracts, cheated on his taxes and ran money-laundering schemes.

Prosecutors claimed that Duff, a white male, operated companies that won contracts reserved by the city for firms owned by women and minorities. For instance, Duff's elderly mother Patricia Duff was allegedly installed as a sham operator of a Windy City Maintenance Inc., a firm that won contracts to clean O'Hare International Airport, Harold Washington Library Center, a large police station and the city's 911 dispatch center. Windy City Maintenance was de-certified as a woman-owned business in 1999.

Six other people, including Patricia Duff, also are accused in the scam; however, Patricia Duff has been declared too ill for court and may never be able to stand trial.

According to news accounts, Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is demanding the city reform its minority business program, because corruption could doom it and similar programs around the country. Specifically, Jackson has blasted Chicago mayor Richard Daley’s connections to the Duff family; the family allegedly made substantial financial contributions to Daley’s campaign.

PABSCO Set To Lobby
Members of the Pacific Association of Building Service Contractors (PABSCO) are invited to the annual PABSCO Day at the Capitol, April 20.

According to PABSCO’s Web site, for the past several years, PABSCO members have descended on the California capitol one day each spring to lobby their legislators on issues impacting the janitorial industry.

“With 32 newly elected members of the Legislature, the need to educate who we are and what we do is more important than ever,” writes PABSCO president Art Rose on the association’s Web site. “Most legislators are unfamiliar with our industry, the problems caused by the underground economy and the business unfriendly climate in California.”

Can Clean ‘05 Features Sanitation Innovation
The Canadian cleaning industry will hold its annual trade show, Can Clean 2005, in the National Trade centre at Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, May 4th and 5th. This year the show focuses on “Innovation in Sanitation,” with an emphasis on new products. Seminars include:

“DAY CLEANING: Let the sunshine in!” Ian Greig will cover the advantages of day cleaning, how to implement the process, and the tools and equipment necessary for a successful program.

“GREEN CLEANING: Why Green Cleaning is Important.” David Holly of the Ashkin Group will prove that green cleaning and environmental responsibility aren’t just buzzwords any longer in “IMPROVING CLEANING

PERFORMANCE: Increased Performance and Reducing Labour Costs are the Key!” Ian Grieg will stress the importance of good management and supervision in today's world of budget cuts and demands for heightened performance.

Can Clean 2005 is open to all members of the cleaning industry, including contract cleaners.

News Briefs

USI Holdings Corp., Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., recently acquired Falls Church, Va.-based Patterson//Smith Associates, an insurance firm serving the building service contracting industry. Terms of the transaction, which still are subject to negotiation, were not disclosed.

Cleaning-product manufacturer Ecolab Inc., St. Paul, Minn., recently was named one of the Best Managed Companies In America by Forbes magazine. The company was recognized for improving food safety in restaurants.

D & A Building Services Inc., Altamonte Springs, Fla., has been awarded an annual contract with the General Services Administration for three Federal buildings in Detroit. Included in the contract, worth more than $1 million, are the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, a federal building and a U.S. Customs cargo inspection facility. D & A is providing janitorial, window cleaning, snow removal, pest control, pressure washing, recycling services, grounds keeping and landscape maintenance services to all three facilities.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is changing its Historically Underutilized Business (HUBZone) program to help small businesses create more jobs in economically distressed communities.

Under recent legislation, a small business applying for HUBZone certification no longer needs to be owned and controlled exclusively by U.S. citizens. Now, the level of required ownership by U.S. citizens is 51 percent.

Another change permits a rural county to qualify for HUBZone status if its local unemployment rate is high relative to either the state’s annualized unemployment rate or the national unemployment rate. Previously, the only comparison was permitted against the state level.

Finally, small businesses that either were terminated or are facing imminent termination from the HUBZone Program because the areas where the firms are located are no longer considered to be economically distressed will be able to participate in the HUBZone Program until the next census is completed in 2010.

For additional information on the changes to the HUBZone program, visit the Web site.

Nearly 700 people who work as hospital cleaners in the Vancouver (British Columbia) Coastal Health Authority have voted to unionize, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Co., report.

The workers, employees of Aramark, voted to join the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU). The HEU says it will work with its new membership to clean up concerns about the cleanliness of hospitals.

ABM Industries Inc. has acquired the business of Colin Service Systems, Inc., a facility-services company based in New York, for approximately $13.6 million in cash. With annual revenues in excess of $70 million, Colin Service is a provider of professional onsite management, commercial office cleaning, specialty cleaning, snow removal, and engineering services. Under the transaction, ABM also acquired customer accounts receivable of $7.8 million and other operating assets. With the exception of office leases, there are no assumptions of liabilities.

“We are pleased to welcome the over 3,000 dedicated employees of Colin Service Systems, to the ABM team,” states Jim McClure, president of the San Francisco-based ABM Janitorial Services. “The acquisition of Colin Service enhances our market leading position in the Northeast and will particularly strengthen operations throughout New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Long Island. We continue to focus on strategic acquisitions that will expand ABM’s market share in major metropolitan areas and strengthen our presence in key customer segments. Colin Service Systems allows us to achieve both of these objectives.”

Procter & Gamble Professional, Cincinnati, recently joined the International Custodial Advisors Network as a Corporate Member.

Cleaning Industry Snubbed From IAQ Conference
The impact of cleaning and maintenance on public health reportedly was excluded from an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) conference sponsored by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

At the NIH/Surgeon General’s conference, Dr. Jonathan Samet, professor and chairman, Department of Epidemiology, John Hopkins University, said that the cleaning and maintenance of buildings was not included on the agenda because of a lack of data. Samet urged the jan/san industry to collaborate its efforts with other industries and to provide funding for future research into this topic.

However, some members of the jan/san industry say there already is research and funding, and are disappointed at the oversight.

“Cleaning and building maintenance have been proven to have an important impact on the indoor environment and on the health of those living and working in those buildings,” notes Jim Harris, president of Concepts IV and a founder of the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI). He notes studies done by the University of North Carolina and the University of Arizona showing strong correlations between cleaning and public health.

“This Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment should have included agenda items focusing on the cleaning and maintenance of buildings and facilities,” he says. “I am dismayed that the jan/san industry was completely ignored by the organizers of this conference.”