Facts on WORK Inc. and the Rose Kennedy Greenway

11, Oct, 2019

We wanted to reach out to ensure you have the full context of our decision to shift to a new vendor for maintenance of the park. The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, out of deference to a fellow nonprofit, initially did not speak on the record about the ongoing management problems we faced with WORK Inc. and the efforts we engaged in to address those issues. Because WORK Inc. has misrepresented their relationship with the Conservancy and our process to the press and the public, we have decided to communicate the facts in greater detail so that you can understand the reasons WORK Inc lost a fair and transparent bidding process.

Performance issues with WORK Inc.’s Management
The Conservancy has been increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of WORK Inc. Overall, our main concern has been with WORK Inc’s lack of proactive management – not with the performance of their staff. The Conservancy has communicated repeatedly our concerns and has ten years of correspondence about the failures of WORK Inc.’s management oversight. At a meeting in July, Jim Cassetta himself acknowledged WORK Inc.’s recurring management/oversight problems and the failure to fix long ago. The management issues have included:

  • Workplans have been repeatedly requested from WORK Inc., including during the procurement process, but never received. For example, the park needs power washing on a schedule, and we have never been provided one.
  • Clearing snow in a 1.5 mile park requires a strong plan for deploying people and equipment and WORK Inc. has regularly been underprepared. During a January 2019 snow storm in a mild winter, for example, WORK Inc. ran out of salt on The Greenway, creating potential safety hazards. Equipment has often been out of service.
  • WORK Inc.’s management did not have a routine morning park inspection system in place to understand conditions from overnight, and so problems such as litter would persist until workers came upon the issue, the public complained, or the Conservancy staff reported it to WORK Inc.

Procurement and Conservancy’s efforts to retain WORK Inc.
Consistent with best practices and similar to multiple past procurements of this contract, the Conservancy led a procurement process to open up the contract to bidding from additional vendors. However, WORK Inc. formally requested in March that they be given the contract through an exclusive, private negotiation; this request was denied.  Block by Block (BBB) submitted a bid that was superior in management, offering, and value, to all others received.

Even after receiving this better bid from BBB, the Conservancy made an effort to see if WORK Inc. could improve its management. The Conservancy offered to suspend the bidding process and offered a 6-month extension in order to allow WORK Inc. to demonstrate improved management and oversight. WORK Inc. declined the extension. While WORK Inc. CEO Jim Cassetta now claims that this was “bad-faith” proposal, it was for the exact same price and terms of WORK Inc.’s contract.

Conservancy commitment to workforce opportunities
The Greenway Conservancy, including its Board of Directors, senior management, and staff, does not tolerate discrimination in any form, and the assertions made by Jim Cassetta are baseless. In fact, the Greenway Conservancy Board and staff are keenly aware of the importance of a commitment to a disabled community, particularly because The Greenway bears the name of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy whose legacy is intimately tied to service to the disabled. BBB reached out to WORK Inc. to create a transition that included hiring WORK Inc. Greenway employees. In August, well ahead of the WORK Inc.’s contract expiration on 9/30/19, BBB asked WORK Inc. Management about the interest of WORK Inc.’s Greenway employees, but WORK Inc. told BBB that their employees would all be placed elsewhere.

BBB shares our commitment to community partnerships for workforce development, with a deep partnership in place with nonprofit Project Place. BBB has already independently hired one former WORK Inc. employee, and one individual through a nonprofit partnership; BBB is actively recruiting individuals with disabilities through another nonprofit. The Conservancy and BBB are working on a MOU that codifies the shared goal to formalize these community partnerships and the access to the workforce that they will provide.

Thank you,

James M. Kalustian
Board Chair, on behalf of the Board of Directors
Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

Jesse Brackenbury
Executive Director
Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy