Airport janitorial services contract changed despite last-minute push from employees

Airport janitorial services contract changed despite last-minute push from employees

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Despite a last-minute push from dozens of Sunshine Cleaning Systems employees, the Charlotte City Council voted 8-2 to change the janitorial service provider at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to ABM Aviation.

Council members Dimple Ajmera and James Mitchell voted against the move. Councilman Matt Newton was absent.

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For more than an hour, council debated the contract. City leaders approved a three-year-deal with ABM. The contract can be renewed for two one-year terms.

Council also approved a month-to-month contract with Sunshine Cleaning to operate until the transition is complete.

Nine people addressed the Charlotte City Council on the topic.

The CEO of Sunshine Cleaning attempted to portray the RFP process as flawed, a claim that Aviation Director Brent Cagle fiercely denied. He said the contract change isn't personal, it's part of the process.

"The best proposal and best value (are) with ABM," Cagle said. "This is one of the most important contracts we have when it comes to customer service and experience in the terminal."

Employees will transition from Sunshine to ABM. Despite that, numerous workers stood up for Sunshine saying it is a company with a healthy atmosphere and an environment where workers can advance.

"Sunshine is a company that allows everyone to strive for higher heights," worker Lawrence Varpilah said.

"I learned to be a leader," Herbert Henry, who started as a restroom attendant and worked his way up to manager, said.

Alisha Tatum, the senior director for the nonprofit LIFESPAN, praised Sunshine for their commitment to interviewing and hiring people with disabilities.

Ultimately, while many council members expressed appreciation for employees who feel loyal to Sunshine, many felt the bid process was fair and thus city staff's recommendation for ABM should be followed.

"I feel I need to honor the process," Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said. "I don't think the RFP violated the process."

"Nothing believes me to think that you would not run the RFP in a fair process," Councilman Tariq Bokhari told Cagle.

City staff estimates ABM will fully take over janitorial services in April.