Soon-to-be laid off janitors come to table

Written by: Eileen Jones - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The city of Montgomery's unemployment line could soon get longer. With the decision to out-source its janitorial services, 43 city employees will soon lose their jobs.

The good news: nine employees are working with other city departments. The bad news: 34 will be unemployed after October 15th. Now, there's an offer on the table some of those men and women are considering.

"We want to get all the fears taken away from you today..." said John Hibbard of Centaur Building Services. All but one of the 34 soon-to-be-laid-off city janitors came to hear what the new private cleaning company the city has hired had to say.

"We're here for one reason, and the reason is to put everybody (sic) that wants to work to work for us in the job force...," explained Hibbard. The new company promises health insurance coverage, retirement benefits, bonuses every quarter for a job well done and a salary range of $7.50 to $10.00 per hour. However, the starting pay for a janitor's salary under the city was $9.35 an hour.

"I live in Coosada," explained city worker Robin Robinson, "For me to come to work for $7.50, I'm coming to work to pay insurance and gas. Is that worth it? no ma'am it's not."

And even though the work is full time, that could mean a six or eight hour day.

"Anything over thirty hours in our industry is considered full time. So, thirty to forty hours a week is what you'll get," Hibbard explained.

"I work forty hours a week, but if they give me thirty...I can't work with that," said Shirley Smith. "Because when you're paying school...or day care or stuff like that...I can't work with thirty..."

In the end, of the 33 who attended the meeting 19 stayed for the interview. Twelve confirmed 'yes' they will work for the private company. Seven said they will call Thursday. One said 'no' to the offer. The company said it's pleased with how the meeting turned out.

Hibbard, who attended the meeting in a business suit, promised, "You will see me working along side of you. You're going to see people in our positions in senior level management helping pull trash. You're going to see us cleaning toilets. You're going to see us doing everything that you guys do because we're all partners in this."

State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery), who complained about the city laying off its janitorial staff, says "I'm very happy the janitors and maintenance people will be able to get jobs back in light of the fact we're going through hard economic times."


WSFA 12 News recently reported on the plight of Keith Peoples, who has worked as a janitor for the city for over 18 years. Peoples told WSFA 12 News that he is one of the nine janitors who was offered another job with the city.

Worried about how he will survive with a wife and two children with health problems, Peoples learned not only will he get to keep all of his benefits, he's getting a promotion and a raise.

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