The war of words between the Greenway Conservancy and its former contractor, WORK Inc., has escalated into a formal complaint to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. WORK Inc. alleges the Conservancy “unlawfully severed its longstanding relationship “because of the nonprofit’s “association with and support of disabled persons and workers.”
The Greenway Conservancy, itself a non-profit designated by the State to steward the parks, rejected the claims of discrimination saying that “WORK Inc. lost a fair and transparent bidding process.” WORK Inc. says the contract loss was a surprise, to which the Conservancy responded that it “has been increasingly dissatisfied with the performance” of the agency.
“Our main concern has been with WORK Inc’s lack of proactive management – not with the performance of their staff,” said Executive Director Jesse Brackenbury and Board Chair James Kalustian in a statement being careful to assign blame to Work Inc. management rather than its disabled employees. The Conservancy listed a series of efforts to resolve differences between the two entities, related to unsatisfactory work items such as snow removal, power washing and trash pickup.
After its bidding process, the Greenway Conservancy awarded its new contract to Block by Block (BBB), a for-profit entity the GC said, “submitted a bid that was superior in management, offering, and value, to all others received.” The GC offered a 6-month extension to WORK Inc. allowing for a re-bid after a period of improved oversight. WORK Inc. CEO Jim Cassetta said he felt this was “bad-faith” proposal on the part of the Conservancy.
At the heart of the conflict is the desire to continue employment for a group of disabled persons that have come to rely on the routine of the Greenway work. BBB says it has reached out to hire the same Greenway staffers, but that WORK Inc. is placing its employees elsewhere. As a result, the Conservancy and BBB intend to “actively recruit individuals with disabilities through another nonprofit.”