by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

The County of San Diego will review it's current janitorial, landscaping, and security contracts after a 4-1 vote from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday after a company wrongfully discharged one of its employees. 

County Chairwoman Nora Vargas issued the proposal, which requests for the Department of Purchasing and Contracting will move forward with a request for proposals under a new contracting policy. Supervisor Jim Desmond opposed the proposal with concerns about long-term costs. 

Desmond said revising other labor contracts could cost up to $13.5 million. 

The proposal for a contract review comes after janitors engaged in a work stoppage on Jan.23 against Nova Commercial Company, claiming a worker was wrongfully discharged. Nova “wrongfully discharged an employee in retaliation for speaking against the company for unsafe practices,” according to a statement from Chairwoman Vargas’ office. 

Under her proposal, Nova may submit a proposal, but the Administrative center will be removed from the existing contract, allowing for a new contract to cover those services. 

“It is our responsibility to now show up for the County contracted workers, some of whom are among the most vulnerable members of society, many of whom cross the border into the United States daily for work. Support for all employees within the County enterprise, and employees that provide a County service through our contracts are a priority for me to ensure a healthy working environment and to maintain positive morale for coming to work every day,” Chairwoman Vargas wrote in a board letter. 

Janitors during a Tuesday public hearing told county supervisors of the mistreatment and unfair working conditions they endured. A woman said what she earns is not enough and she has no insurance. She added that her current disability came from having to take on a second job. 

“Our county and I are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for all our workers and we expect our contractors to do the same,'' Vargas said. "They have sacrificed a lot over the last few years, and we need to ensure they have safe working conditions and are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.''

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