Mayor Rahm Emanuel
121 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Il 60602
Dear Mr. Mayor:
I am asking you to launch an investigation into Republic Services Inc. which is changing the rules that have allowed them to fire my company, Linda Construction, 825 East 99th Street, Chicago, IL, while asking the city for a waiver because they can’t find qualified African American contractors.
I am Linda McGee, president of the Linda Construction Company. My husband, Jessie, and I began this company in 1990 and until recently we were the only African American garbage haulers in the United States that called Chicago home; that is until April 7, 2014 when Republic claimed that they did not give us permission to hire the following minority companies; L.C. Watson, One Unique Trucking and DYJ Logistics. However, these companies have been working with us for the past three-years. All of them had problems with Local 731, which Republic Services was fully aware of. We have copies to prove this allegation.
Republic Services ended our contract inappropriately because we had lost a grievance filed because our drivers were not performing due to instructions from Local 31 where officials told them to move 1.5 loads a day and do their best the rest of the day.
First, Mr. Mayor, no company can survive on 1.5 loads a day. The drivers were supposed to pull 2.5 loads a day.
Secondly, Mr. Mayor, Local 731 prevented us…handcuffed us from disciplining our own low-performing drivers. If we disciplined them for low-performance, they would file a grievance, and we could have to pay them for being off for two-days and then rehire them.
More important, Mr. Mayor, is the fact that Republic Service never waited for the outcome of our appeal that was filed in federal court and failed to wait for the outcome of our appeal to the NRLB ??????before terminating our contract and replacing us with T C Transportation, Inc, owned by Chris Grzymala, located at 12009 South Ewing Avenue, Chicago, along with his daughter’s company, MWST.
Republic Services also ended our contract because they claim we did not perform our work…that we did not send enough trucks to the Calumet Transfer station to do the job. However, on March 12, 2014 it was Republic Services that shut down the Calumet Transfer Station until 1 p.m. on March 13, 2014. This action caused that station to experience an overflow of garbage.
At that time, the garbage was put on the outside of the building rather than on the inside, which made it, seemed like there was an overflow of garbage, which is not true. That location holds up to 45-50 loads of garbage. From Thursday to Friday, we only pulled out 51 loads of garbage. We can and will provide the actual load count that came out of that site. We did our job until Republic Services closed that site.
Republic Services also claimed that our company has breached our contract with them by not paying Local 731 union dues, which they say, amounted to $200,000; however, we believe it is $177,000.
We notified Republic Services three times in writing that we needed to get paid in order to pay our union dues. While they called me and asked how much did we need and requested line items, they never sent the money. Their inaction put us in a financial bind. We are too small of a company to carry a $1.4 million debt. That is the amount Republic Services owes us, but they obviously do not want to pay their debt to us for services already rendered. We have proof of this as well.
During this period, we did notify the Chicago Department of Procurement of the situation at the 64th and State Street Transfer Station. Republic Services had increased the tonnage at this site but they decreased the hours of loading. This is bad because you cannot make the required 2.5 round trips because the window is too small.
We have not been treated fairly. Our company was fired without the customary 30-day notice and without any outreach from Republic, which is suppose to lend their services to our company as our mentor according to the city’s (MRRF) minority program.
Mr. Mayor, as of the last report I read in the Chicago Sun-Times, African Americans received about 8 percent of the city’s $1 billion contractual pie. That single digit has remained constant for several years.
We are a qualified and certified African American business for the past 24-years and have been in this particular mentor program for more than three years. It is hard to succeed when you have a prime contractor changing the rules, withholding your pay then calling in their cards when you can’t pay your union dues. It is unfair.
It is also unfair for Republic Services or any prime contractor to then turn around and ask for a waiver from the city of Chicago because they can’t find qualified black contractors. Jamie L. Rhee, Chief Procurement Officer, is well aware of this. Every time we have a problem, we report it to her. We are a qualified company, and we take pride in running our business properly and in order.
My husband and I began a foundation, concrete/asphalt and inter-mobile service company an had employed more than 50 people. As you know, Mr. Mayor, in 2007-2008, the construction business took a dive due to the economy prompting us to buy a concrete plant. We decided to go into the garbage hauling business.
In January of 2012, the U.S. Attorney and the City of Chicago sued Republic Services for using fronts and won a lawsuit resulting in Republic paying $11 million to Chicago. Republic also agreed to spend $12 million on minority businesses.
We won a bid with the Republic Services in July of 2010 to haul garbage but officials there never helped us as the mentor program states in the bid. They wanted to get us working on the job, let us spend our money but when it was time to reap the rewards of the job, they found a way to disqualify our company. This is not fair.
So, on paper, Republic Services is in compliance having partnered with a certified African American company, but then, working in conjunction with Local 731, they change the rules, won’t pay us then fire our company for not being able to pay our union dues. It is a practice to ensure that we fail, and I have worked too hard to let that happen.
We are being attacked by both Republic Services and Local 731 which is telling our drivers to pull one load a day and do their best on the second load. They are also telling drivers they need to put in applications at other jobs because we won’t be able to meet our obligations and to pay them.
That is true based on their projection. With a scale of $211.00 guaranteed pay, $108.00 weekly union dues and $122.00 fuel that give us a total of $441.00. On an average, a load only pays to us about $350.00, which leaves us short in being able to meet our obligations.
Our drivers are also being told that we receive $22.32 per ton and that they are being cheated out of $60.00 which is not true. We will provide affidavits about this statement as well.
Under this mentorship program, Republic Services is suppose to help our company not impose new rules and withhold our pay which only guarantees that we will no longer be in compliance. It is a paperwork trick designed to eliminate viable African American contractors.
I am asking that your inspector general launch an investigation into the practices of Republic Services, the prime contractor. I am also the city to make Republic Services pay us the $1.4 million that company owes us. Republic Services asked us to redo our bills and to send them in by March 10, 2014, which we did; however they did not send us our money. Our invoices must be paid in 14-days.
My husband and I take great pride in operating our company, and I will fight to protect our good name. We have provided jobs for the community including training men and women for generations to come. We want to continue to build on that legacy and will fight against those who are trying to sully our good reputation.
I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Mayor, for I know the solution lies in your hands. Having inherited the single digit slice of contractual pie designated for blacks, I believe you are sincere when you promised to increase that percentage.
We are a legitimate company and have always looked for legitimate businesses to partner with; however, it is difficult to succeed when you have a company changing the rules in the middle of the game in order to end your contract with the City of Chicago and then go beg city officials to award them a waiver. That is unfair.
Linda J. McGee
Linda Construction, Inc.