by Joe Lawrence | March 27, 2012
An attempt to privatize a city agency, which monitors building safety in hurricane-prone Florida, failed last week due to an aggressive campaign by members of AFSCME Local 2009 and a history of good relations with the public they serve.
The Hallandale Beach Building Services Department is small, but members understood privatizing it would have a domino effect on other operations, said Local 2009 Pres. Paulemond Mompremier. Just two years ago, the same local beat back an attempt to privatize sanitation.
The city commission put the service out to bid at the behest of commercial interests who demanded more control over the department. But the privateers came up short because Local 2009 had the community at their side during the commission meeting in which bids were considered. The city inspectors have a history of rigorously enforcing building codes, but they’re also known for going out of their way to help residents and businesses meet the code – and the public appreciated it.
Local 2009’s community rapport began long before the privateers targeted building services. Twice monthly, the local’s members set up on a community street, put out the AFSCME banner, and clean up litter while going door-to-door with brochures explaining all the services they provide the public.
“You’ve got to remind the commission, the mayor and the community about the valuable service you provide people,” said Mompremier. “It makes a big difference when voters see and hear the faces and voices that make their community work.”