For Members » Conventions

In Opposition to Privatization

WHEREAS:

            Profit interests and public interests are different interests and may very well conflict; and

WHEREAS:

            The government’s responsibility for the welfare of all is being eroded by replacing public functions with private, for-profit, unregulated enterprises, or privatization; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization of public services is increasing in cities across the nation in educational systems, the delivery of health services, sanitation, transportation, and many other essential services which employ many AFSCME members.  Even the privatization of the water we drink has been on the legislative agenda in some municipalities; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization engages large, often multi-national corporations to handle public services.  Their sole purpose is to profit off the public domain.  Unlike public workers, these corporations take their profits out of the communities they are supposed to serve.  They are often given a “tax break” which reduces or waives their contributions to the local tax base and increases their profits; and

WHEREAS:

            Private contractors generally do not hire union workers, silencing the voices of workers that might otherwise be organized and engaged in collective bargaining; and

WHEREAS:

            Workers in the public sphere must compete with workers in the private sphere, pitting worker against worker, thereby promoting inequality and undermining worker solidarity; and

WHEREAS:

            Workers in privatized sectors of public services have seen steep reductions in wages, gutting of pensions, shorter or eliminated vacations, etc., creating downward pressure on wages and benefits for all workers.   Substandard wages result in high turnover, reducing the experience of the workforce as well as the quality of services; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization is part of a larger economic agenda to shred the social contract and eliminate economic mobility for workers.  Public sector employment has traditionally offered stronger equal opportunity, higher rates of unionization, and more anti-discrimination protections than the private sector, especially to historically excluded populations such as African Americans, Latinos, women, and veterans.   Privatization disproportionately affects the stability of these communities with multigenerational impacts, such as reduced contributions to the tax base,  the inability to purchase a home, decreased access to higher education, etc.; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization is sold as cost saving and quick cash to desperate municipalities, but trading public services for short term monetary relief is not a solution for long-term fiscal irresponsibility.   Private contractors have not decreased the cost of services, such as the privatization of the Chicago Skyway, which increased the price of tolls by 25% the day the contractor took over.  Following the privatization of parking services in Chicago, contracted to a consortium led by Morgan Stanley, subsequent analysis shows that the contractor will reap 4 to 10 times the billion dollars paid for the contract; and 

WHEREAS:

            Private contractors have little or no incentive to complete a job or service, or do so within time and fiscal limits.  They may stall operations for financial gain or benefit from recurring problems, adding to fiscal woes.  While public workers struggle to work within fixed budgets, private contracts often contain language that allows gross cost overruns, ultimately driving up the cost of public services; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization does not allow transparency of the inner workings of contractors.  This lack of regulation leaves workers vulnerable to abuse and leaves taxpayers shut out from oversight.  Private contractors may also subcontract, making accountability difficult or impossible.  Any resources or information gathered in the course of that service becomes the contractor’s private property, which can be sold or reviewed for other purposes; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization is part of a larger political agenda that restricts the public domain, curtails civil liberties, increases surveillance and the rise of the security state, and increases mass incarceration.  The unstated political purpose of privatization is to disenfranchise workers, weaken civil society, and undermine democracy; and

WHEREAS:

            Privatization is opposed to the interests of ALL working people.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            That AFSCME members call on the public to stand up and resist privatization as the largest and boldest threat to our collective livelihood; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            That we call on those who make decisions in the public domain to refrain immediately from any and all private contracts that displace public workers.  We also call for support to organizing efforts by workers and community members directly affected by any existing contracted services; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            That we work in coalitions with other organizations to oppose privatization of any and all public works.

 

SUBMITTED BY:    
Ellen Larrimore, President and Delegate
Diane Rumsfield, Recording Secretary
Patricia Johnson, Treasurer and Delegate
Vladimir Fernandez, Trustee and Delegate
Jeanette Hernandez, Executive Board Member
Linda Loew, Executive Board Member
AFSCME Local 1989, Council 31, Illinois

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