National Maintenance Contractors (NMC), the company Zeller Realty Group chose to clean Umpqua Bank Plaza, sells dubious franchises to janitors—reportedly often to immigrant workers with limited English proficiency—through contracts that charge thousands of dollars in fees for the right to service Zeller’s customer accounts. Recently, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that NMC must back pay the state approximately $138,000 in unemployment insurance taxes because these “franchisees” are legally employees.
Findings in the case include:
- Franchisees (janitors) had to pay thousands of dollars to work for NMC.
- Some franchisees waited months for NMC to provide the work they had paid for.
- NMC deducted from franchisees’ income up to 51% of what building owners and property managers paid, including a 25% service fee if franchisees wanted assurance they could keep working after their first year.
- Franchisees were not paid for extra hours worked, such as when cleaning extra messes after an office party or correcting deficient work.
Additionally, in 2004, Willamette Week reported “the bogus ‘franchises’ that janitorial company National Maintenance Contractors has been peddling to poor immigrants are rife with roguery … NMC lures franchisees, usually non‐English speakers with no business experience, with the promise of owning their own janitorial company.”