Millennium employee who fell multiple stories reveals hidden layers of subcontracting.
The story reads like a nightmare: Jeff Ready-Kraft, a window cleaner, fell eight stories from the top of the Morgan Building in downtown Portland. His hand was burned from attempting to grip the rope to stop himself. A witness told local news, “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this flash. There was a little vibration you could feel when he landed on the ground, it was crazy.” Further investigation from Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that the building owners may not have even known that Mr. Ready-Kraft would be working on their building.
Mr. Ready-Kraft’s injury highlighted the complex layers of subcontracting Millennium Building Services is known to employ throughout Portland. The Morgan Building, managed by Urban Renaissance Group, contracted with Millennium Building Services to clean its windows. Millennium then subcontracted to ProClean (Rudmar, Inc.). ProClean then further subcontracted to Sheffield Services. Sheffield Services then further subcontracted the cleaning to Jeff Ready-Kraft, the owner and sole-proprietor of “Over The Edge Cleaning Services LLC.” The result was that the Morgan Building and Urban Renaissance Group landed in the headlines, but they may not have even known what company was cleaning their windows. ProClean admitted to Oregon OSHA investigators that they had only a verbal contract with their subcontractor and that they do not notify Millennium when they subcontract jobs.
Responsible building owners and managers are turning to another model – responsible contracting. By selecting a responsible janitorial firm, clients of janitorial services can be assured that they are choosing a licensed company that pays workers a fair wage, provides benefits, maintains industrial insurance, and has a tried and tested dispute resolution system that won’t land them in court or on the front pages of newspapers. For a list of responsible contractors in your area, visit RaiseAmericaPDX.org/Responsible.
For Portland building owners and managers, the story of Millennium’s subcontracting isn’t surprising, but is concerning. A report released in June of 2018 detailed the layers of subcontracting Millennium and other janitorial companies can use to attempt to insulate themselves from responsibility for working conditions of janitors and other workers. New legislation, however, may change this model. Oregon’s Property Service Worker Protection legislation (HB 3279) means that clients of unlicensed contractors can be held jointly and severely liable if they hire an unlicensed contractor that fails to pay its employees. Clients of Millennium Building Services may be concerned to learn that along with a record of subcontracting, the company had an injury and illness rate 2-3 times the industry averages from 2014-2016 and increased each year.