Continued from page 1

In the contract summary provided to the council, the Gray administration acknowledged a pending Labor Department investigation into wage and hour complaints against USSA. But the administration also noted that USSA and Watkins have demonstrated acceptable performance on federal contracts with the departments of Homeland Security and Labor.

The contract summary downplayed the significance of three federal lawsuits alleging discrimination against USSA that were identified in a Dun and Bradstreet report.

However, federal court records show that additional lawsuits are pending in Michigan against the firm for alleged violation of the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act and in Alabama alleging discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment. In Georgia, a federal pregnancy discrimination lawsuit resulted in a consent decree against the firm in 2010.

In Alabama, a federal judge noted the “reprehensible conduct in this case that went all the way up the corporate ladder.”

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, which represents school security officers, school employees and school bus drivers, has been a strident opponent of the contracts awarded to USSA and Watkins Security. The labor union alleges serious health and safety violations in a number of states, and unfair labor practices in discouraging workers from organizing a union.

“We must do better by our children and the officers whose job it is to keep our schools and the public safe,” said Local 32BJ Vice President, Valarie Long. “The city must stop making secret deals with irresponsible contractors and provide District taxpayers with the quality services they deserve.”