by Joe Lawrence | May 30, 2012
A Florida city manager, determined to sell off sanitation services, hit a roadblock after AFSCME members mobilized residents and demanded the city administration hear cost-savings proposals from the public employees themselves.
In recent weeks, Local 3293 members went door to door explaining how detrimental the loss of public control and accountability would be on the services residents have been receiving. Their grassroots activism led to the full house when privateers pitched the council.
North Miami Beach city employees and residents packed a public meeting earlier this month where private companies were submitting their plans to privatize the sanitation services. After Local 3293 President Janice Coakley appealed to the council to hear the employees’ proposals, the commissioners agreed to do just that at next month’s meeting.
The mayor, as well as the rest of the council, expressed reservations about the process and the facts and figures presented. Members of the Council took notice of the public’s demand for continued quality public services, questioning inconsistencies in the standards used to rate the companies and questioning the validity of claims that privatization would save the city money.
“We can either outsource everything we have and it is what it is, or we can come together and bring some real savings into our budget.” said Councilwoman Marlen Martell.
Sanitation worker Percy Davis moved participants when he talked about his 24 years of service to the city – including time spent sleeping in city hall during hurricanes to ensure he and his colleagues were ready to work immediately after the storms passed.