AffinEco Partner Elected Association President; Eyes Connection Between Immigration & Labor Crisis

By Sue Minichiello

Diamond-BSCAI-swearing-inThe strength of an industry is often tied to the strength of its professional associations. That certainly holds true for the cleaning and maintenance industry.

The Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) represents a worldwide network of companies that provide facility cleaning, maintenance, security, and other services to property owners and managers.

AffinEco’s connections to the organization trace back over 50 years and are entering a new era with the election of Managing Partner Michael Diamond as BSCAI president.

Diamond’s father Al founded Premier Maintenance (an AffinEco company) in 1966 and joined BSCAI in 1968. Diamond began attending BSCAI events in 1983 and, when he took over Premier in 1997, upheld the longstanding relationship. He served on the BSCAI board in the 1990s and again from 2011 to 2014. Now, he is honored to serve as its president.

“BSCAI is an incredible organization. It supports building service contractors (BSCs) like AffinEco in many ways, especially with education and training,” Diamond said. “I’m humbled to serve as president and eager to do everything I can to advance the association’s agenda and the industry as a whole.”

Diamond is eager to help BSCAI achieve these 2019 goals:

  • Release of the site supervisor certification program.
  • Growth of the online learning management system.
  • Continued opportunities for education, group purchasing benefits, and networking.

In addition, he plans to lead BSCAI to communicate a message of immediate importance to Congress. While labor is critical to any business, the BSC industry – along with others like landscaping and food service – is facing a potentially debilitating labor shortage. And that shortage is connected to immigration issues.

Even before Diamond was sworn in by his father at BSCAI’s 2019 CEO Seminar, the organization had begun to tackle the labor topic. It engaged Claudia St. John, President of Affinity HR Group, to present on labor trends at the seminar.

St. John shared that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted 1,300 workplace audits in 2017 compared to 6,000 in 2018 – an increase of more than 360 percent. Workplace arrests were up nearly 70 percent – from 300 in 2017 to 2,300 in 2018.

“In effect, that deters potential employees from immigrating to the US and, with near record low unemployment, makes finding quality workers more difficult,” said Diamond. “Also, retaining employees as wage growth exceeded 3 percent in February adds challenges for buildings with established budgets.”

According to St. John, “Congress continues to be gridlocked over the issue of immigration reform, and few anticipate action within the next year. However, employers can expect increased ICE activity and USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] initiatives.” She agrees with Diamond that the threat of raids and arrests combined with “the overall low unemployment rate, changes to minimum wages, and general wage growth” will continue to make it tough to fill the ranks in the industry.

“While respecting a need to fix the broken federal immigration system for contractors across the country, this is a labor crisis. We want to combine efforts with other like-minded associations and convey to Congress that we need immigrants to be able to come here legally and work,” said Diamond. “The challenge is how to do that most effectively, because – bottom line – we need a good solution. We all need to find workers to help continue feeding our growing economy.”