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University required to hire legitimate subcontracting companies

By Harold Lee

May 21, 2003 9:00 pm

Although concerns sometimes arise over fair treatment of
subcontracted manual workers at institutions of higher education,
UCLA is safeguarded from dealing with subcontractors with
questionable working practices.

The university takes measures to make sure that the
subcontracting companies it deals with are legitimate and operate

Companies seeking contracts are required to provide information
on how long the company has been in business, references from other
employers that used the contractor, location and on-site visits to
see if the service is being provided appropriately, said Barbara
Furgeson, a UCLA campus human resources labor relations

“We don’t get involved in the running of other
subcontractors, but if an issue is brought to our attention, we
would verify (illegal activity) and tell the contractor that these
types of actions need to cease,” Furgeson said

“The UC does not go out to deal with shady
organizations,” she added.

Subcontractors, however, may not always be honest, despite
UCLA’s selection policies.

UCLA is currently being presented with allegations that AA, a
maintenance firm, paid cash to workers for overtime hours instead
of adding the extra wages to their paychecks, Furgeson said, after
meeting with AA employees to hear complaints.

Generally, areas of the university use contractors for
“seasonal and non-recurring work,” said Lubbe Levin,
assistant vice chancellor of campus human resources.

Cleaning the residence halls during the summer and construction
are examples of seasonal and non-recurring work.

“When a department identifies that they have a need (for
subcontracted labor), we would identify the scope of work to be
done,” said Bill Propst, director of the campus purchasing
department. “If it is something that requires more than
$50,000 a year, we send out bids.”

The purchase department then solicits proposals and prices from
vendors who can meet the advertised need.

For subcontracting deals that require less than $50,000 a year,
the university negotiates with vendors and does not usually send
out bids.

In the case of the selection of a construction firm, UCLA is
required by state law to award the contract to the lowest bidder,
said Steve Olsen, vice chancellor of finance. “The university
has a set of drawing specifications and contractors inspect those
and prepare a bid,” Olsen said.

UCLA and the University of California system, however, do not
hire subcontracted work only for manual labor. In some cases,
outside legal counsel has been used and has different

“If the university acquires the help of legal counsel,
that particular counsel is based on qualifications,” Olsen

Though UCLA generally hires subcontractors for seasonal and
non-recurring work, the status and benefits of subcontracted
parking workers, who work for AMPCO, is currently disputed because
of the length of time many workers have worked at the

“I’ve been working here for two years and eight
months, from 3:30 p.m. to midnight,” said Carlos Cruz through
an interpreter, an AMPCO parking attendant at Lot 8.

“We deserve to have fair wages and deserve to have health
benefits, because we don’t have any right now for our
families,” he added.

Cruz also said being hired directly by UCLA would eliminate
“harassment” that comes from their current

Workers are accused of losing keys and not taking care of the
workplace without being given an opportunity to explain themselves,
he said.

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Harold Lee
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