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DMC files to make 565 custodial layoffs official

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

The Detroit Medical Center has formally announced plans to permanently lay off 565 custodial employees when it switches vendors in December.

The hospital group filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the state on Oct. 1, saying it plans to transfer housekeeping services at area hospitals to a new vendor “in order to maintain efficient and reliable hospital operations.”

The notice says a new vendor has not been chosen yet, although the company expects the layoffs to be effective Dec. 1. The locations and layoffs are as follows:

■Harper University Hospital/Hutzel Women’s Hospital: 157

■Sinai Grace Hospital: 122

■Children’s Hospital of Michigan: 113

■Detroit Receiving Hospital: 99

■Huron Valley Sinai Hospital: 45

■Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan: 21

■DMC Surgery Hospital: 8

The affected employees don’t have bumping rights to take over other jobs, according to the notice, which was signed by the DMC’s Labor and Employee Relations Director Hakim Berry.

In a statement, Conrad Mallett, the DMC’s Chief Administrative Officer, said the layoffs won’t be as “significant” as people think.

“The decision to align our environmental service workers with supervisory management we believe will result in higher employee engagement, cleaner hospitals and will lead to a deeper level of patient satisfaction,” he said. “There will not be significant employee reductions as reported. The DMC will assist all affected employees so that the transition process will be, from the employees point of view, as effective as possible.”

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union represent the workers being laid off.

AFSCME filed a lawsuit Sept. 30, asking a judge to stop the hospital group from seeking a new vendor while labor negotiations are underway.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court on behalf of about 300 of those employees, alleges the DMC intends to get around having to bargain with the union by contracting with a new custodial service not approved by the union.

According to the lawsuit, the unions and the DMC have an agreement that “subcontracting may not be undertaken for the sole purpose of depleting bargaining unit positions.” The two sides have been meeting since Sept. 5, but there have been no assurances that the hospital group has been bargaining in good faith, the lawsuit says.

A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Oct. 27 in front of Judge Avern Cohn in Detroit.

Bruce Miller, attorney for AFSCME, said the lawsuit doesn’t cover any of the SEIU employees.

A call to the attorney who represents the SEIU Healthcare Workers was not immediately returned Friday.

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