BRIEF: City Council panel advances measure to void airport-security contract

Sep. 27--CHICAGO -- A Chicago City Council committee Wednesday advanced a resolution calling on the Daley administration to void a $31 million contract to provide airport security, despite an audit that found the company is paying workers at a rate above the minimum required by the city's living-wage ordinance.

City officials launched an investigation into Universal Security Inc. in July after an outcry from the Service Employees International Union, which represented workers at the company that previously held the contract.

Critics contend Universal Security is not meeting the city's minimum pay rate for large contractors, $10.33 an hour.

City auditor Robert Benson said at Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting that the company was in compliance with the living-wage ordinance, paying workers $10.50 an hour.

But aldermen disputed that claim, saying the company violated its city contract by including pay for benefits such as travel and uniform expenses in the base pay.

Barbara Lumpkin, the city's departing purchasing chief, warned the audit's findings could leave the city open to a lawsuit by the company if the contract is nixed.

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