Farmington High School Students to Boycott School Lunch Program

Source: NBC Connecticut, Oct 29, 2014

Many Farmington High School students are fed up with their school lunch program and hundreds of them are planning to bring their own lunch to school next week in protest.

Chartwells has run the school’s cafeteria services for about three years, according to administrators. While the food quality, portion size and price are all concerns students are raising on a Chartwells Boycott Facebook page created to boycott the cafeteria lunches, student Sarah White said there’s a policy Chartwells has that she finds humiliating.

DMC workers protest hospital’s plan to outsource job

Source: Holly Fournier, The Detroit News 11:28 a.m. EDT October 27, 2014

About 70 employees of the Detroit Medical Center’s environmental services department rallied Monday to protest the hospital’s plan to outsource housekeeping jobs to a company called Sodexo.

Their protest came moments before a 3-hour hearing Monday in Detroit’s federal court to address the hospital’s plan. The hearing continues with oral arguments Wednesday morning.

DMC files to make 565 custodial layoffs official
Source: Lauren Abdel-Razzaq, The Detroit News 4:27 p.m. EDT October 10, 2014

The Detroit Medical Center has formally announced plans to permanently lay off 565 custodial employees when it switches vendors in December. The hospital group filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the state on Oct. 1, saying it plans to transfer housekeeping services at area hospitals to a new vendor “in order to maintain efficient and reliable hospital operations.”

Union sues DMC, claims bargaining violation
Source: Lauren Abdel-Razzaq, Detroit News, October 1, 2014

A local labor union has sued the Detroit Medical Center and its affiliates for what they claim is a violation of collective bargaining agreement rights when they announced plans to contract out custodial services. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court on behalf of about 300 employees in the Council 25 locals 140, 180 and 3695. The lawsuit alleges that the DMC intends to get around having to bargain with the union and is asking a judge to stop them from contracting with the third party custodial service company. “They want to send this stuff out to a third party and under our collective bargaining agreement it is binding on successors,” said Bruce Miller of the Miller Cohen law firm, which handles litigation for AFSCME. “We have to take action before the agreement is made.”…

Hearing scheduled for concerns on city water system privatization

Source: Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun, Oct 27, 2014

Concerns about Baltimore selling its water system to a private company will be vetted at a City Council hearing at 5 p.m. Dec. 1. Councilman Carl Stokes said while Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration has stressed that there are no plans to sell the water system, he wants agency officials to explain why they are looking for a consultant to study operations.

All Wet? “Consultant” contract prompts concerns that the city may privatize its troubled waterworks
Source: Edward Ericson Jr., City Paper, August 19, 2014

After Baltimore City wrested its water and sewage system away from the private Baltimore Water Company in 1854, the municipal system expanded and made improvements, so much so that by 1914 the city crowed about its “finest in the world” new sewer system in a brag book aimed at tourists and business owners. A hundred years later, a nonprofit corporate privatization watchdog that thinks the city is about to sell its waterworks to a private company is focusing attention on a tiny Baltimore contract to promote efficiency in the city’s troubled waterworks. Some city workers protested the contract—which has not yet been awarded—on August 13 at City Hall. ….. The Corporate Accountability Campaign is allied with AFSCME, the huge state-and-local government employee union. Glenard Middleton heads up the Baltimore local, but he did not return City Paper’s calls asking about Veolia and the water contract.
Related:
Is Baltimore City’s Water Supply Up For Privatization?
Source: Jaisal Noor, The Real News, August 15, 2014

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: On Wednesday, August 13, activists, union members, and concerned citizens rallied at Baltimore City Hall to decry what they say could be the first steps in privatizing the city’s water. GLEN MIDDLETON, PRESIDENT, AFSCME LOCAL 44: And we’re here because we want to put a spotlight, a spotlight on selling out Baltimore. …. The Real News reached Kirk Coker, spokesman for Baltimore Department of Public Works, who says there are no plans to privatize the city’s water.

Water worries [Editorial] Our view: Privatization protest was premature, but concerns about the water system are real
Source: Baltimore Sun, August 14, 2014

If Baltimore were actually considering privatizing its water system, the 50 or so people who were protesting outside City Hall on Wednesday would have had a strong case to be upset. But it’s not. Rather, Baltimore is looking for a consultant to evaluate the operation and maintenance of its aging system to find ways to increase efficiency — something that should be greatly in the public interest at a time when rates are constantly going up and broken water mains are distressingly common. Something needs to be done. …. The fact that 50 people were willing to protest even the possibility that the city would consider privatizing water the water system should show just how concerned the public is about the delivery of the most vital of city services.

Protesters question city water system study/ Baltimore officials say they have no plans to privatize water service
Source: Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun, August 13, 2014

About 50 protesters rallied Wednesday outside Baltimore City Hall to object to a proposed study of the water system, a step they fear could eventually put the system in private hands.
The group, led by labor organizers and the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International, is worried that a $500,000 consultant’s study could lead to the private management of the water system.
But the Department of Public Works request for proposals did not involve privatization, city officials said. The request seeks to find a company to study ways to improve “operating and maintenance performance” while “reducing costs and enhancing operational efficiencies.” … In St. Louis, a contract proposal between the city’s water division and Veolia Water North America was dropped in October after protests over the company’s environmental and business practices, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis officials said the contract was intended to find a way to cut costs and avoid rate increases for customers. Asked for comment about the Baltimore proposal, a representative from Veolia referred questions to the city. …

Unions Continue To Express Concerns Over Hospital Conversions

Source: by Cara Rosner, CT News Junkie, Oct 24, 2014

A senior official at the Dallas-based corporation trying to buy community hospitals in Bristol, Vernon, Manchester and Waterbury says privatizing them is the best way to keep them viable, but employee representatives have major concerns about the potential buyouts.

…. Union officials who represent hospital workers aren’t so sure. “There are serious questions about how this takeover would impact quality of care,” said Suzanne Haviland, field representative for AFSCME International, the union representing nurses and technical employees at Waterbury Hospital, which Tenet is in the process of acquiring.

For-profit hospital deal gets done. Then, doubts behind the scenes
Source: Arielle Levin Becker, CT Mirror, May 9, 2014

Late Wednesday night, lawmakers managed to accomplish something many doubted would be possible: Crafting a compromise that could clear the way for four Connecticut hospitals to be acquired by a for-profit company, in a way that would mollify both unions critical of the transactions and hospitals wary of additional state oversight. The measure cleared the House and Senate by wide margins. Union leaders supported the deal. Hospital lobbyists looked pleased. But for some legislators key to the deal, any sense of celebration after the deal was short-lived. Their concern: The response to the bill by Tenet Healthcare and the Yale New Haven Health System, which are partnering to acquire Waterbury, Bristol, Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals. ….
Related:
Hospital Privatization Debate Takes Hold In General Assembly
Source: William Weir, Hartford Courant, February 27, 2014

Several Connecticut hospitals are looking to form partnerships with for-profit companies — a change that some say is necessary for hospitals to survive but that others charge would emphasize money over health care and community needs. Thursday, the legislature’s labor and public employees committee heard arguments for and against a bill that would put restrictions on hospitals seeking to convert from nonprofit to for-profit. The bill would require, among other things, that hospitals maintain staffing levels for at least three years after receiving the attorney general’s approval for converting to for-profit status, and to maintain the same employee salaries and benefits that were in place before the conversion. Tenet Healthcare Corp., a Dallas-based for-profit company that has partnered with Yale New Haven Health System, is negotiating to acquire Waterbury Hospital. Bristol Hospital and Eastern Connecticut Health Network are also in merger talks with Tenet. …

Gov. Malloy says ‘progress is being made’
Source: Michael Schroeder, Bristol Press, February 27, 2014

Gov. Dannel Malloy says “progress is being made” on legislation related to the long-awaited sale of Bristol Hospital to Tenet Healthcare, although there is much work to be done. The governor responded to questions about the hospital negotiations during a telephone conference call with editors of state newspapers Wednesday. The focus of the call was on the billion-dollar United Technologies expansion agreement announced the previous day. Malloy recommitted to evaluating privatization of nonprofit hospitals based on how such a move would impact patient care, hospital employees and contributors to the hospitals involved, adding that evaluation and legislation on a case-by-case basis would likely be necessary. He said he would be open to privatization if necessary, but his preference was for the hospitals “to remain in the same hands as they are now.” Bristol Hospital — along with the hospitals of Eastern Connecticut Health Network in Manchester — have purchase agreements pending with Tenet, which purchased Vanguard Healthcare, the originators of the acquisition….

Workers want protections in hospital mergers
Source: Don Michak, Journal Inquirer December 4, 2013

The General Assembly should not allow the state’s nonprofit hospitals to be converted to for-profit entities without taking steps to ensure safe nurse-to-patient ratios, preserve the jobs of support workers, and protect employee pensions, union officials say….Similarly, the leader of the union that represents 400 nurses at Waterbury Hospital said lawmakers should require “for-profit converters” to make certain guarantees. Waterbury Hospital, along with Bristol Hospital and Eastern Connecticut Health Network’s Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals, has been targeted for takeover by the Texas hospital chain Tenet Healthcare. Barbara Simonetta, president of Connecticut Health Associates, said such guarantees would include agreements to maintain access to current health services and affordable care. She said the for-profits also should agree to maintain “quality staffing and hospital employees’ standard of living” and to comply with “community benefits” provisions, including patient and worker protections. Simonetta also complained that Waterbury Hospital was making “cuts to woo investors to its fire sale” and accused Tenet of “stealing our retirement security to line investors’ pockets.”…

Committee Hears Pros & Cons of For-Profit vs. Nonprofit Hospitals
Source: Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, December 4, 2013

Tempers flared at the end of the this year’s legislative session over a bill that would have made it easier for a private, for-profit hospital company to purchase physician practices from a nonprofit hospital that it planned to take over….Waterbury Hospital was the first to start courting for-profit suitors like Vanguard Health Systems, a Tennessee-based for-profit hospital operator that was recently acquired by another Texas-based for-profit company called Tenet HealthCare Corporation. Tenet has been in negotiations with Waterbury Hospital and has been courted by Bristol Hospital, and Eastern Connecticut Health Network. But the question lawmakers will have to answer is: Would a for-profit risk quality care in order to achieve savings for shareholders?…

Officials on hospital takeovers: Not so fast
Source: Don Michak, Journal Inquirer, July 30, 2013

…Barnes and other administration officials say the out-of-state companies and corporate buyout firms that would acquire or merge with the hospitals and convert them into for-profit providers should not be allowed to make the switch without a major public “discussion.”… The officials spoke with the Journal Inquirer in recent days as Eastern Connecticut Health Network, the nonprofit owner of Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals, is poised to “partner” with one of two larger for-profit hospital systems based in Tennessee and Texas….

…Attorney General Jepsen, who along with the commissioner of the state health department has power of approval over sale of nonprofit hospitals, agreed with Barnes that conversions are “kind of the wave of the future,” adding, “We’re not going to be able to turn back the clock.” Asked if he is concerned that a community’s needs no longer would be the priority of a former nonprofit, Jepsen demurred, asserting that the attorney general’s role in a conversion is limited…. Jepsen added that Sharon Hospital “is the only completed conversion,” referring to the Litchfield County facility acquired in 2002 by the Tennessee for-profit system, Essent Healthcare….

Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America’s Public Services

Source: Center for Media and Democracy, October 15, 2014

Maggots, drug smuggling, sex with inmates. As if the news were not already bad enough, shocking new allegations of a murder-for-hire plot are emerging from Michigan as the media digs deeper into that state’s failed outsourcing of prison services.

….. While Aramark’s failed outsourcing of prison food services is a dramatic example of the harms that can arise from the America’s public services and assets, this report, Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America’s Public Services, contains many other cases of outsourcing run amok generating worse outcomes for the public, often higher costs, lawsuits and scorching headlines.

PROFITING FROM FAILURE

Source: KEN DILANIAN, AP, Oct 27, 2014

The Army’s $5 billion intelligence network has largely failed in its promise to make crucial data easily accessible to soldiers and analysts in the field. But for a select group of companies and individuals, the system has been a bonanza.

Designed to provide a common intelligence picture from the Pentagon to the farthest reaches of Afghanistan, the Distributed Common Ground System has proven crash-prone, unwieldy and “not survivable,” in the words of one memorable 2012 testing report.

Meanwhile, the defense companies that designed and built it continue to win multi-million-dollar intelligence contracts.

Philadelphia’s plan to sell gas utility is dead

Source: AP, Oct 27, 2014

City Council members are effectively killing the proposed sale of Philadelphia’s gas utility to a Connecticut company, saying the risks of the deal outweighed the benefits to utility customers and the city. Council president Darrell Clarke said there was “no appetite” for the proposed $1.86 billion sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings Corp., which required approval from both the council and the state Public Utility Commission.

‘NO’ to privatization in Philadelphia
Source: Joseph Piette, Worker’s World, June 26, 2014

A large crowd of Philadelphia Gas Works workers and their supporters rallied outside City Hall on June 19 to stop the privatization of the city-owned utility. Utility Workers Local 686 organized the demonstration, which included a number of politicians and labor leaders, including Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. Speakers emphasized that the sale of the utility would ultimately raise heating prices for residents, decrease safety for communities, and lower wages, benefits and rights of workers…
Related:
Group Says 1,000+ Signed Petition Against Privatization of PGW
Source: Mike Dunn, CBS Philly, May 27, 2014

About a dozen local activists delivered petitions today to members of City Council, urging the lawmakers to oppose Mayor Nutter’s plan to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works….Nutter wants to sell the city-owned utility to a Connecticut firm called UIL for nearly $2 billion (see related story). The group of protesters believes that natural gas rates would escalate if PGW is sold and that relief for low-income families and senior citizens would end.

Related:
Selling PGW: A bad deal
Source: Ellen Dannin and Jim Walsh, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 25, 2014

Not all utilities are the same. Compare, for example, Philadelphia Gas Works with Connecticut-based UIL Holdings, which is seeking to buy PGW and privatize it for profit. Both sell gas to their customers. But other than that, the differences are stark and plentiful. The city-owned PGW does far more than simply provide gas to 500,000 Philadelphia customers. As a not-for-profit, PGW has no obligation to make money for shareholders and executives. Instead, it can – and does – act primarily for the benefit of all Philadelphians…The proceeds from the sale of PGW may sound nice for the city, but that money is not free. Instead, it is an expensive loan, with UIL recouping interest on its investment by increasing gas rates for families and local businesses. The three-year rate freeze that Nutter has touted is riddled with exceptions and exclusions. It doesn’t apply to more than a dozen different surcharges and riders, or to the cost of any state-mandated improvements….

Rejected bidder for PGW offers alternative roles
Source: Andrew Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 25, 2014

A politically connected unsuccessful bidder for Philadelphia Gas Works is positioning itself to move into the breach if Mayor Nutter’s embattled plan to sell the utility collapses. Liberty Energy Trust, a year-old firm started by Russia-born, Harvard-trained former Enron executive Boris Brevnov, last month hired a lobbying firm, S.R. Wojdak & Associates, to “coordinate discussions” about energy-development opportunities. City officials say Liberty is quietly promoting alternatives to Nutter’s plan to sell PGW to UIL Holdings Corp. of New Haven, Conn., for $1.86 billion….

Nutter Announces Agreement To Sell Phila. Gas Works to a Conn. Company
Source: Mike Dunn, CBS Philly, March 3, 2014

Mayor Nutter today announced that he has reached a deal for a Connecticut company to buy the Philadelphia Gas Works for more than $1½ billion. … And with that, Nutter confirmed that New Haven-based UIL Holdings Corp. intends to purchase PGW for a whopping $1.86 billion. Nutter said that was at the high end of the range of possible sale prices that financial experts had projected. … Under terms of the deal, UIL has committed to holding its base rate — the portion of the bill unaffected by natural gas prices — to current levels for three years. It will continue assistance programs for low-income customers. All current PGW employees will be guaranteed a job and their pension fund will be preserved….

Florida court blocks ticketing system

Source: caribbeanbusinesspr.com, Oct 17, 2014

A Florida court has ruled that state law bars private third-party vendors from issuing traffic citations.

The ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal came in the case of a motorist challenging a red-light ticket issued by a private company contracted by the municipal government of Hollywood, Florida to run a camera-based traffic enforcement system.

The court ruled that the city is not authorized to delegate police power by entering into a contract that allows a private vendor to screen data and decide whether a violation has occurred before sending that data to a traffic infraction enforcement officer (TIEO) to use as the basis for authorizing a citation.

Vermont Lawmakers Quiz the State’s Private Prison Company

Source: MARK DAVIS, Seven Days, MON, OCT 20, 2014

A series of assaults last year inside a Kentucky prison that houses 400 Vermonters stemmed from a culture of drug use that involved prison guards and inmates, officials from the company that runs the prison said today.

Representatives from the Corrections Corporation of America made a rare appearance in Vermont, testifying before the Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee. The told the committee they have made improvements since a series of violent incidents inside Lee Adjustment Center last year alarmed Vermont officials. However, CCA officials faced sharp questions from lawmakers about their staffing levels and security measures.

White Hat’s Magic Trick: Transforming Public Schools into Private Assets

Source: PR Watch, Oct 21, 2014

…. Oversight is impossible without transparency. But when the governing boards at ten Ohio charters run by White Hat Management tried to find out how the company was spending its budget, the company simply refused to provide detailed records, claiming that information about how it was spending taxpayer money was proprietary. The years-long legal struggle which is pending in the state Supreme Court relates to two questions at the heart of the school privatization controversy: When do public funds become private assets? And how much transparency do private companies owe when they provide public services on the public’s dime?