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. …


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. …

City solid waste workers’ union vows to fight outsourcing
Source: Maria Nagle, The Pantagraph, February 9, 2018
The union representing the city of Bloomington’s 35 solid waste employees is vowing to fight efforts to possibly replace them with private haulers.  As it considers ways to cut costs to close a $2.9 million deficit for the fiscal year that starts May 1, the City Council is looking at whether to authorize the city staff to explore outsourcing solid waste services to a private vendor.  “If they decide to even explore outsourcing, we would have the right to be a part of it every step of the way,” said Renee Nestler of the statewide American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. “We would be issuing a demand-to-bargain letter.”  The City Council is slated to vote on whether to study outsourcing during a special session at 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall. …

Union Raises Concerns About Bloomington Garbage Outsourcing Talk 
Source: Ryan Denham, WGLT, February 6, 2018

The union that represents the City of Bloomington’s solid waste employees is lobbying aldermen not to outsource garbage collection to private companies.  The Bloomington City Council is expected to discuss solid waste again Feb. 12. As aldermen look to close a $3 million budget deficit next year, some have expressed interest in cutting costs by turning over some or all waste removal to private companies.  It’s not the first time the city has considered this. This time, members and supporters of AFSCME Local 699 are being encouraged to contact aldermen to voice their opposition to outsourcing, said Renee Nestler with AFSCME. The union is circulating a flier. … Added Nestler: “The city could be obligated to bargain with us over the decision and potentially any impact over what direction we’re going.” …

Elsewhere, private garbage haulers are in the majority
Source: Maria Nagle, Pantagraph.com, March 22, 2015

….While the two municipalities were once among only a few of the larger communities in Central Illinois that privatized their garbage collection, it is now Bloomington and Normal who are in the minority in offering tax-supported garbage collection services. Besides Springfield and Urbana, the cities of Champaign, Decatur, Peoria and Galesburg have multiple private garbage haulers, or they contract with a single private waste management company. But keeping the system public comes at a steep price — and that is the main issue facing Bloomington leaders at the moment. With Bloomington’s program projected to end the fiscal year on April 30 with a $2.4 million deficit stemming from the current rate structure for bulky waste collection, the council has asked city staff to come up with alternatives for it to consider on April 13. Privatization is not likely to be one of them…. But in the opinion of Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch, private garbage contractors cannot duplicate the city’s level of service. “Our citizens have high service expectations and it is uncommon for private haulers to provide the service level given by the city at the subsidized cost that we’re able to provide it,” he said.  Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich agreed….