Members of AFSCME New Jersey worked hard to make sure Atlantic City’s water system remains in public hands.
Just before the Christmas holiday, the state announced that it will not lease or sell the city’s water system to a private company. This followed more than a year of concern from residents and activists about the fate of the Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA), and is due in large part to the hard work and dedication of AFSCME members in and around Atlantic City.
“We immediately knew we had to do something,” said April Gould, president of Local 3408. “Atlantic City is already struggling and outsourcing the water would have been disastrous. AFSCME members have always been on the front lines of community issues and this time was no different. This is the community that we live in and that we work in, you can’t just leave those problems up to somebody else and hope they work out.”
Outsourcing water could have led to out-of-control prices and lowered the quality and service. Sharply higher water prices would not only have affected local residents, but also local businesses, forcing them to raise their prices, affecting anyone who lives and works in Atlantic City or visits the community.
The hardworking women and men of AFSCME New Jersey know that when they do their job right, communities are safer, happier, and healthier. That’s why members of Locals 2302, 2302-A, 3974-A, 1210 and 3408 took to the streets of Atlantic City, getting more than 200 signs of MUA support on the windows of local businesses and homes.
A statement from the state designee in the city, former U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa read, “After speaking with community members and listening to their concerns about potential privatization of the MUA, the state recognizes the important role the MUA plays in community at large and the visible pride that city residents and businesses have in their water system. … Therefore, the public can rest assured that the MUA will not be privatized by the state.”