Owner of firm with O’Hare deal has links to reputed mob figure
BY DAN MIHALOPOULOS AND MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporters November 29, 2012 6:28PM
Robert Pawlaszek, of SEIU Local 1, gathers with O'Hare janitors and other employees during a prayer vigil outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's residence in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, November 29, 2012. The group hopes Mayor Rahm Emanuel will reconsider a decision to privatize their jobs. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:37AM
The owner of a company that recently won a $99.4 million janitorial contract from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration was the longtime business partner of a man accused of involvement in organized crime.
United Maintenance Co. Inc., owned by Richard Simon, was chosen last month to clean O’Hare International Airport for five years starting on Dec. 15.
Simon was involved in another company with alleged mob figure William Daddano Jr. from 1998 until that firm was officially disbanded on Dec. 17, 2011, according to state records.
The company managed jointly by Simon and Daddano was based in the same South Loop building where United Maintenance has its offices, the records show.
In 2004, Attorney General Lisa Madigan described Daddano and three other family members as “reputed members of organized crime” as she opposed Rosemont’s bid to open a casino.
And in a “Chicago Outfit Organizational Chart” published in 1997, the Chicago Crime Commission listed Daddano among the “members and associates” of the mob’s North Side crew.
An Emanuel administration spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times late Thursday, “The city has no reason to believe that there is any wrongdoing with United Maintenance or its owner. However, if material issues arise, the city would take appropriate action to protect its interests.”
In a statement from Simon’s company, the janitorial firm said “at no time was anyone at United aware of allegations” against any of its business partners. The statement from United Maintenance also said Simon’s collaboration with Daddano involved leasing “certain heavy equipment” at convention centers and ended about five years ago.
Daddano is the son of the late mobster William “Potatoes” Daddano. Reached on his cell phone Thursday evening, Daddano hung up on a Sun-Times reporter.
The O’Hare janitorial deal has drawn heavy criticism from organized labor, with about 300 union workers facing layoffs next month as a result of the new contract with United Maintenance. They say they are being undercut by a company that will pay lower wages and offer its employees fewer benefits than they get.
In an effort to save their jobs, janitors and window washers marched outside the Ravenswood home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel on his 53rd birthday Thursday evening carrying candles, a cake and singing. About 70 janitors sang “Happy Birthday” in Spanish, Polish and English before blowing out 53 candles and making a wish: that Emanuel would let them keep their jobs.
Laura Garza, secretary/treasurer of the Service Employees International Union Local 1, called on Madigan to investigate United Maintenance.
“Those are right now middle-class jobs where people can feed their families, and they are going to be entry-level, poverty jobs,” Garza said.
But officials for United Maintenance, whose workers are not unionized, say they will hire some of the existing workforce and offer them the prevailing wage and better benefits. They also noted that the contractor they are replacing — Scrub Inc. — was fined $3 million for refusing to hire African Americans as O’Hare janitors.
The United Neighborhood Organization, a Latino community group that runs one of the city’s largest charter school networks, recently held two job fairs to help recruit new O’Hare janitors for United Maintenance.
UNO’s janitorial service was listed by United Maintenance as an “anticipated” sub-contractor on the O’Hare deal — an arrangement that could have been worth almost $5 million, according to city records.
But UNO chief executive Juan Rangel told the Sun-Times his janitorial firm does not have a deal with United Maintenance and hopes only to conduct “outreach” efforts to help the new city contractor find workers. Rangel said he believed black ministers also had been drafted to aid in the hiring campaign.
“We had several hundred people come to each event,” said Rangel, Emanuel’s campaign co-chairman for the 2011 election.
At Thursday’s protest at the mayor’s house, some marchers wore stickers with Emanuel’s face and the words “Job Killer.”
The mayor did not appear to be home. His house was dark, save for the light on the front porch, which shined on two pumpkins.