Category Archives: Victories

Push to end privatized prison food clears first hurdle

Source: Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, April 10, 2018
 
A state House budget panel Tuesday unanimously approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to end controversial privatized food service in Michigan prisons, meaning the proposal to rehire state workers for kitchen jobs cleared an early hurdle. But legislators and the Michigan Department of Corrections are at odds over a separate budget provision that would require the state to close its third prison since 2016 due to a steadily declining population. Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature voted to privatize prison food service in 2012, a move that was projected to save the state $16 million a year as contract workers replaced more than 370 state employees. …

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Gov. Rick Snyder: State to end problem-plagued privatization experiment with prison food
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, February 7, 2018
 
Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that the state will end a four-year experiment with privatizing its prison food service after years of maggots in food, smuggling by kitchen employees, kitchen workers having sex with inmates, inadequate staffing levels and other problems documented by the Free Press in a series of articles. … The Free Press, using Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, documented a litany of problems, including meal shortages, maggots in the kitchen, the smuggling of drugs and other contraband by kitchen employees, kitchen workers engaging in sex acts with prisoners and even attempting to hire one inmate to have another inmate assaulted.  Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25, whose members used to staff the prison kitchen, said many of the more than 300 former workers have moved on to other jobs or retired, but he expects there will be a core workforce available to train new hires.  “It was a shocker,” Ciaramitaro said of Snyder’s announcement.  “I give him credit. It’s one thing to try something — it’s another thing to admit that it didn’t work.” …

… The state and Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia opted to end their $145.1-million contract about 18 months early in 2015 after the state balked at billing changes requested by Aramark. The state switched to a $158.8-million contract with Florida-based Trinity Services Group, but problems continued. Corrections Department Director Heidi Washington said the state plans to bring about 350 state workers back into the prison kitchens when the Trinity contract expires July 31. The state and Trinity have mutually agreed to part ways after Trinity sought price increases, she said. …

Michigan Department of Corrections, Trinity Services Group mutually agree to end contract
Source: Upper Michigan Source, February 7, 2018

The Michigan Department of Corrections will return to state-run food service operations this summer after coming to a mutual agreement with Trinity Services Group to end the partnership when the contract expires. The change, which would bring about 350 state workers back to correctional facility kitchens, was announced in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget recommendation presentation Wednesday. … Budget language first approved in 2012 required the open bidding of food service operations to reduce correctional costs. The boilerplate language requiring the open bidding of food service is no longer in place, but the change would still require the Legislature to appropriate sufficient funds for these operations moving forward.

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Public Workers Worried That Tennessee’s Billionaire Governor Is Taking Another Run at Them

Source: David Dayen, The Intercept, April 4, 2018

LAST YEAR, TENNESSEE’S governor attempted a frontal assault on the unionized workers that staff the state’s facilities and management jobs at public buildings, two-thirds of which are state-run colleges. Gov. Bill Haslam, the richest U.S. elected official not named Donald Trump, signed a contract with a facilities management firm to privatize those jobs. But a prodigious campaign by the campus employee union and student activists led to nearly the entire University of Tennessee system publicly opting out of the contract. … But Haslam appears to have found a work-around. The Tennessee legislature is on the verge of passing a bill to overhaul the University of Tennessee’s entire board of trustees, allowing Haslam to hand-pick the replacements. That board could pressure campuses to opt back into the privatization contract at any time over the next four years. …

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How a Scrappy Campus Union Saved Tennessee From Privatization
Source: Chris Brooks and Rebecca Kolins Givan, In These Times, March 20, 2018

… The resulting $1.9 billion contract was the largest in Tennessee government history, and privatized the maintenance and management of up to 90 percent of state-run facilities, including state and university buildings. It was awarded to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a multinational with a history of bribery accusations. … What the privatizers didn’t plan for was the United Campus Workers (UCW), a scrappy higher education union affiliated with the Communication Workers of America (CWA). Public-sector unions in Tennessee are legally barred from engaging in collective bargaining, and the state has no obligation to recognize or negotiate with them. Instead, the union relies on a mixture of legislative advocacy, workplace actions and mass mobilizations. Few unions exist in a harsher political and legal environment, yet the UCW is punching far above its weight, increasing its membership while securing victories against better-funded foes. …

Workers’ unlikely victory over outsourcing in Tennessee
Source: Elizabeth Stanfield and Jon Shefner, Facing South, February 6, 2018
 
Last fall, United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 3865 (UCW) achieved an important victory for organized labor’s fight against privatization and erosion of public-sector jobs. For more than two years, they campaigned to stop Tennessee’s billionaire Republican governor, Bill Haslam, from outsourcing all state facilities service jobs. Their campaign involved multiple constituencies and tactics and played a key role in the University of Tennessee system’s decision not to participate in the outsourcing contract. The fact that this victory was won in a red state by a union without collective bargaining or dues check off is a powerful reminder of what organized workers can achieve against great odds. This victory is worth paying attention to because it reminds us that even in the face of tremendous obstacles, organized workers can win. …

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Chico Animal Shelter to continue offering animal control and sheltering

Source: Dani Anguiano, Chico Enterprise-Record, March 26, 2018

The city of Chico will keep its animal control and shelter services in house. In December, the city announced it would re-examine contracting out those services and requested proposals from local groups to see what other providers could offer in regard to animal services and if that could help improve practices or cut costs. Butte Humane Society and Friends of the Chico Animal Shelter submitted proposals in response to the request, and supporters and representatives from those groups passionately made their case in letters to this newspaper and City Council members. City Manager Mark Orme made the determination not to recommend outsourcing animal control and sheltering services at this time, he said, and the matter will not come before the council unless requested. That is standard practice, Orme said, adding that one aspect of his job is to examine the viability of operations in the city on a continuous basis. …

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Letter: Animals deserve care offered by city government
Source: Sarah Downs, Enterprise-Record, December 14, 2017

Recently an article was published in the E-R regarding the city considering contracting out animal shelter services in the hopes of saving the city money. However, it took seven years to gain control of the shelter from the Butte Humane Society, and it wasn’t entirely to save money. BHS ran the shelter for over 25 years, and there were big problems regarding animal care and general operations and costs. Since the city took over, the shelter has been run cleanly, efficiently, with a high level of care, and the euthanasia rate has plummeted. It’s been five years since the city took over, and I think the operations are something we can be proud of. … Finally, historically speaking, relations between BHS and the city have often been strained. With all of the information I’ve personally been able to gather, it seems contracting out to BHS would result in resorting to old practices causing a detriment to the animals of our community. …

Chico Animal Services, Animal Control could be contracted out
Source: Ashiah Scharaga, Enterprise-Record, December 1, 2017

The city could be contracting out the services at the Chico Animal Shelter, as well as those provided by Animal Control. City staff will start gathering program proposals this winter and present everything to the City Council in the coming months, according to Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin. … The city may chose to contract out all, some or none of the services, and the decision will ultimately rest with the City Council. Animal Services Manager Tracy Mohr said the city animal shelter has done a fantastic job of reducing euthanasia rates and having positive outcomes for animals. … Four years ago, the city considered contracting out services at the shelter and many other departments when the city was not as financially stable. …

Opinion: P3 schools fail to make the grade

Source: Tom Graham, Regina Leader-Post, March 31, 2018

If we could build five schools for the cost of four, any responsible government would do it. That is exactly what the Manitoba government decided in its 2018 budget, which rejected the public-private partnership (P3) model to build schools. Manitoba reviewed the evidence and found that for the price of $100 million, it could build five schools the traditional way, instead of four P3 schools. It makes one wonder why our financially challenged Saskatchewan Party government chose the more expensive P3 model to build and maintain 18 schools and other P3 projects. Our government keeps saying that P3 schools save money, but where is the evidence? … What we do know is that we are paying a hefty premium for maintenance contracts for brand-new schools which, if built properly, should not need that much maintenance or repair. Let’s hope the private maintenance companies do not charge $409 to replace a soap dispenser as happened at a P3 hospital in Montreal. There are a few other costs specific to P3 schools that we should mention: the higher interest payments for the private financing of the school construction, the higher consultant costs for reports, and the $500,000 given to each of the companies that bid but did not get the contract. …

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CUPE members in Manitoba celebrate major victory against P3s
Source: CUPE, March 13, 2018

The Manitoba Government has cancelled all plans to involve public-private partnerships (P3s) in the education system, and instead is committing to build five new publicly-funded schools in Winnipeg and Brandon. The government initially planned to build four schools under the P3 model, but after a cost-benefit analysis the savings were found to be enough to build an entire fifth school. …

Nashua BOE rejects privatization plan

Source: Hannah Laclaire, The Telegraph, February 28, 2018 (Abstract)
 
The Nashua Board of Education has rejected privatization, ending two and a half years of discussion about the topic and protecting more than 100 union service-based jobs within the district. … Last fall, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire sided with the Nashua School District in an appeal from the union that the district committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain with the Nashua Custodial/Janitorial Staff concerning the district’s plan to move toward privatization at the end of the term of the “collective bargaining agreement between the parties.” …

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School board-custodian case moves close to Supreme Court
Source: Tina Forbes, The Telegraph, September 22, 2016 (Abstract)

The Nashua School District is one step closer to having its case considered by the New Hampshire Supreme Court after the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board denied the district’s request for a rehearing on its plan to privatize some of its custodial workforce. The labor board handed down its decision on Tuesday, more than a month after the school board voted to appeal the labor board’s initial decision in favor of the district’s custodians.

Hassan Hopes for ‘Fair Resolution’ As Nashua Custodians Fight For Jobs
Source: Jason Claffey, Nashua Patch, August 10, 2016

Gov. Maggie Hassan is hoping for a “fair resolution” for union custodians at Nashua schools as they fight to keep their jobs. In the fall, the Nashua Board of Education voted 7-1 to end its contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 100 custodians in Nashua. … Gov. Maggie Hassan on Tuesday released a statement on the dispute: “Nashua custodians help ensure (a) safe, clean learning environment. Hope all work in good faith to reach fair resolution.”

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When Corecivic Comes to Town: Lessons From Elkhart’s Grassroots Struggle to Preserve a Vibrant Community

Source: Sydney Boles and Rowan Lynam, Medill Reports, February 27, 2018

In Pembroke, Illinois, it started in Hopkins Park; in Gary, it started right across the street from their small airport; in Crete, it was Balmoral Park. In Elkhart, Indiana, it started at the intersection of county roads 7 and 26. It was a stretch of weeds and snow next to the county’s correctional facility and its huge, methane-leaking landfill, catty-corner from the well-worked farmland of German immigrants. This unremarkable piece of nowhere, Indiana would have held over a thousand immigrants in ICE civil detention. They would have been held in a private, maximum-security facility with the capability to hold 60 in solitary confinement, encased in a total visual barrier. Would have — because Elkhart, like so many Chicagoland towns before it, said no. …

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Here’s What Happens When Trump Policy Comes to Trump Country
Source: Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, February 2, 2018

…. It all started in mid-November, when local activists including Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations at Goshen College, learned that the private prison company CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) was eyeing a location near the landfill and county jail. Within weeks, CoreCivic filed a proposal to build an immigration detention center that could hold up to 1,240 people awaiting immigration court decisions or deportation.The company was seeking to fill Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s need for detention space to hold the increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants its agents were picking up in the Midwest. ICE interior deportations in the first eight months of Trump’s presidency had ticked up 37 percent compared to the same period in 2016, and the agency wanted beds within a 180-mile radius of four cities, including Chicago and Detroit. Elkhart County, Indiana, was in range of both cities, and CoreCivic, which gets more than a quarter of its $1.8 billion annual revenue from incarcerating ICE detainees, spotted the opportunity. ….

CoreCivic has history of complaints, violations Company accused of mismanagement, abuse
Source: Caleb Bauer, South Bend Tribune, January 29, 2018

Corrections Corp. of America’s stock prices plunged in recent years when the Bureau of Prisons began phasing out private, for-profit prisons amid reports of problems with oversight, safety and security. The Nashville-based company responded by shifting its focus to housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees and rebranded itself as CoreCivic. After the election of President Donald Trump, who campaigned to increase immigrant detention and deportation, CoreCivic’s stock prices jumped. Now, the private prison company is angling to open a new ICE facility in Elkhart County. Who is this firm that’s promised to bring 300 new jobs to Elkhart County? Since its foray into ICE business, CoreCivic has continued to be dogged by ongoing allegations of mismanagement and abuse at its detention facilities…..

Union rep: City workers helped their own cause in defeating privatization plan for garbage pick-up

Source: Howard Packowitz, WJBC, February 14, 2018
 
Union workers who pick up the garbage in the city of Bloomington were relieved by the city council’s vote against exploring privatization of solid waste pick-up.  Renee Nestler, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 699, appealed to aldermen to vote against outsourcing, and instead back higher fees for long-term solution to cut costs.  Nestler said workers have built up a lot of goodwill over the years.  “All the credit in the world goes to our members who do the job day in and day out, and where the citizens appreciate the services they do and the quality work,” said Nestler. …

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Council opts to explore solid waste fee hike, service changes
Source: Maria Nagle, The Pantagraph, February 13, 2018
 
Rather than replacing the city’s solid waste workers with private garbage haulers, the City Council directed the city staff to explore raising solid waste fees and finding cost savings in garbage, bulky waste, brush and leaf collections.  The council’s 5-3 decision at a special meeting Monday prior to the council’s regular session had city solid waste workers breathing a sigh of relief. Aldermen Jamie Mathy of Ward 1, David Sage of Ward 2 and Karen Schmidt of Ward 6 cast the dissenting votes; Ward 8 Alderman Diana Hauman was absent.  “We’re excited. We feel like this is something that should be taken off the table,” said Adam Smith after the meeting. He is an 11-year city solid waste employee and president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 699.  “We do a good job and we feel like we can do it better than everybody else,” said Smith. “It’s important to all of us … and job security helps morale. There’s not a lot of morale (in the solid waste division of the public works department). Hopefully, this will be a small step in building that.” …

Renner, union: Raise garbage fee to cover service costs
Source: Maria Nagle, Pantagraph, February 9, 2018
 
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner and the union representing the city’s public works employees favor raising user fees to cover the full cost of solid waste collection rather than outsourcing it.   “I just wish they could raise the fee,” said Jeremy Beutow, a 15-year public works employee and steward for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 699.  That would eliminate the stress once and for all for solid waste collection employees who worry about how yearly budget cuts will affect their jobs, said Beutow and AFSCME state representative Renee Nestler. … Renner said he sees the answer as “some version of trimming back bulk waste a little bit” and charging users the actual cost, which runs about $26 a month on average. Trash carts cost $16 to $25 per month, depending on the size. …

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Council unanimously votes to take back library operations

Source: Andrew Clark, The Signal, January 9, 2018

Santa Clarita decided to take back full control of its library system Tuesday evening. The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to end a contract with Library Systems and Services, LLC, and independently operate and staff the Santa Clarita Public Library system. … he move looks to save the city about $400,000 in what would be the city’s first fiscal year of operations. The decision comes nearly seven years after the city pulled the libraries out of the county system and contracted with Library Systems and Services to operate and staff libraries in Newhall, Valencia and Canyon Country. City documents noted the city initially had success with LSSI as library hours were expanded and the annual budget for books and materials was increased, but the company’s performance has declined in recent years. …

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Privatization–and Pushback–Proceed in Santa Clarita
Source: Beverly Goldberg, American Libraries, July 27, 2011

…. Mayor McLean’s sentiments about public accountability are echoed in a new toolkit from ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy. However, “Keeping Public Libraries Public: A Checklist for Communities Considering Privatization of Public Libraries” makes no bones about ALA’s opposition to library privatization. …. That distinction has also captured the interest of the California legislature, where a bill is being considered that would regulate under what circumstances the management of a library that is withdrawing from a free county library system could be privatized.

Unhappy with cleanliness, Chesterfield school leaders break ties with outside custodial service

Source: Vanessa Remers, Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 12, 2017

Chesterfield County School Board members will bring at least some of their custodial services back in-house, cutting ties with an outside contractor that school officials said couldn’t keep the county’s schools clean enough. School Board members voted unanimously Tuesday not to renew their contract with Tennessee-based Service Solutions Corporation. Instead, they moved forward with a hybrid plan in which the daytime custodial work will be done in-house and after-school cleaning will be completed by at least three outside contractors. … In the past two years, school officials charged SSC more than $400,000 in penalties for not meeting the contracted level of cleanliness. … To shift back to at least some in-house custodial work, School Board members supported hiring custodians to work as day porters, in addition to outsourcing after-school cleaning to at least three contractors. That could cost the school system approximately $19 million in the first year, according to a plan that has been proposed by staff. That’s about $7 million more than it pays now under the current SSC contract. The tab could increase to $23 million annually as the schools increase staff to achieve a higher “ideal” level of cleanliness. … The school system switched from providing custodial services in-house to an outside contractor three years ago, in part because the shift would save millions. But even before that switch happened, school officials said the internal system wasn’t staffed properly. …

Video: Deal of the Year 2017 – Small Issuer: City of Missoula, Mont.

Source: Bond Buyer, December 6, 2017

The city of Missoula, Montana waged a six-year legal battle to wrest control of its water system from a private company. The water system in the town of 70,000 was privately-owned by Mountain Water – a company that refused to make needed repairs to the system or sell it to the city. … Obtaining traditional financing with no disclosure from Mountain Water — and water assets nearly beyond repair — was unattainable given the risks. The city also had to provide payment before the court could rule it owned the water system. The solution: the direct sale to Barclays of nearly $140 million in A-rated bond anticipation notes. The financing plan uniquely provided the necessary mechanics to allow the city to purchase the water system. Prior to the acquisition, water bills were 17% higher than elsewhere in the state, but dropped to 49% below average after the deal.

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City Of Missoula Takes Ownership Of Mountain Water Company
Source: Beau Baker, MTPR, June 22, 2017

The city of Missoula has taken ownership of the water utility that serves its residents after a three-year court battle. The city bought Mountain Water Company for $84 million and paid another $6.8 million to developers who had a claim against the company. A separate bundle of transition costs, the bulk of which are attorneys’ fees, amounts to $7.5 million.
Mayor John Engen said city attorneys originally estimated the legal costs would be $400,000. Missoula won the right to buy the utility in an eminent domain case. It now joins all 128 cities and towns in Montana in controlling and owning its own water and distribution system. … Merriam says there are no immediate plans to change the rates. …

One for the history books: Missoula will buy its water system
Source: Sherry Devlin, Missoula Current, February 22, 2017

In an historic vote Monday night, the Missoula City Council unanimously approved the purchase of Mountain Water Co., forever ensuring the city’s “access to clean, affordable and reliable water.” … Throughout the recent effort, and decades of unsuccessful attempts by previous mayors and councils, the goal has been to place Missoula’s drinking water system into public ownership. … That now could happen by the end of March. With Monday’s vote, the local water system will be free from an increasingly distant and disaffected roster of corporate owners, most recently The Carlyle Group, a global investment fund, and the Canadian utility Algonquin Liberty. … Missoula’s water has always been in private ownership; all other Montana cities own their water system. … In fact, Bender said, Mountain Water Co.’s purchase by an international hedge fund – The Carlyle Group – imperiled every future generation.
The city’s purchase of its drinking water system will benefit those future generations the most, Bender said. …

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