Transfer for Workers Who Don't Do Windows

MAYOR Edward Rendell has clear vision - at least through his windows.

Before he became mayor, Philadelphia's City Hall was cleaned by city workers who didn't do windows.

``It had been a decade since the windows were cleaned,'' estimates David Cohen, Mayor Rendell's chief of staff.

So when the city privatized the cleaning of City Hall last year, window cleaning was a new requirement. Now, the windows get scrubbed twice a year.

Mr. Cohen says the whole building, with its miles of corridors, are cleaner.

``The whole level of service is better,'' he claims. And, it's not just cleaner, it is done cheaper too. By privatizing the cleaning, the city saves $350,000 per year, he says.

That's not the way Ann Cohen (no relation to David) sees it.

Ms. Cohen, president of Local 1637, District Council 33 of the AFL-CIO, says the unions suggested that the city bring in window cleaners from other city facilities if it wanted clean windows in City Hall. She recalls that the unions conducted such an experiment in 1989 - possibly the last time the windows were touched by city cleaners.

Ms. Cohen also disputes the city's claims about saving money. She estimates that the privatization will cost the city an extra $500,000 this year since the city purchased new equipment. And she maintains that the private contractor is using more workers to get the job done.

None of the old workers lost their jobs - they were transferred to other jobs in the city.

Today, Fred Cummings, who worked at City Hall for 15 years, is a janitor for the city's Fleet Management Department. However, the new job does not sit well with Mr. Cummings, since he was a supervisor at City Hall for the past seven years.

``It was very hard for me to go from supervisor back to being a janitor,'' he says, even though he kept the higher wage.

City officials don't dispute that there is some pain associated with the changes. But there is also no doubt that City Hall is clean - and that the mayor has a clear view out his window.

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