Privatization continues to decimate public employment. Privatization erodes and destroys existing public-sector unions, driving down wages, benefits and working conditions.
Corporations benefiting from privatization range from some of the largest global conglomerates to front-group businesses created to take advantage of tax credits and bidding requirements. West Virginia is one state that has taken a very pro-business attitude, and passed legislation in June of 2021 which allows greater use of independent contractors. Large companies have found that they can use independent contractors’ status in U.S. labor law to lower workers’ pay and benefits, while maintaining significant control over how those workers perform their jobs.
Public-sector unions (including UE) have fought for higher wages and better working conditions for their members. These hard-fought gains can be erased overnight through privatization. Contract workers often face poverty wages and harsh working conditions and depend on government benefits such as food stamps to survive. Standards of living for such employees are generally precarious.
The fight against privatization is also a fight for racial justice. African Americans are more likely to work in the public sector, and if they do they on average earn more than if they worked in the private sector. The corporate attack on public workers has a thinly disguised racial component in the depiction of public employees as lazy and overpaid.
UE Local 893 in Iowa has fought off several privatization schemes beginning in the early 1980’s. UE Local 170 in West Virginia has relentlessly, and often successfully, opposed privatization initiatives by both the executive and legislative branches of state government since its founding in 2006.
The contagion of privatization extends to every part of our society: public water systems and assets are being sold, public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure are being parceled out to politically connected private interests, and public education is being dismantled as corporations seek to profit by leveraging our nation’s future. The very concept of the public sector and the public good are under attack in order to increase the already historic level of wealth inequality. A determined and unified response is imperative.
THEREFORE , BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 77th UE CONVENTION:
- Opposes privatization and contracting out of public services and facilities;
- Demands Congress:
- Declare a moratorium on all new federal privatization;
- Investigate all current contracts to determine if they result in accountability, quality of service, and savings;
- Restore adequate federal support for state and local governments to meet public needs without cutting wages, benefits and working conditions of workers;
- Cut off all funding that promotes privatization globally, namely schemes contained in the work of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
- Demands state attorneys general investigate all current and proposed state and municipal privatization for conflicts of interest and other forms of corruption and self dealing;
- Supports state legislative moratoriums on contracting out public sector work;
- Supports passage of legislation at all levels which requires work done with public funds to provide a living wage and comprehensive benefits;
- Opposes replacing public-sector workers with inmate labor, or by forcing workers on unemployment compensation or welfare to work;
- Supports the union’s work to organize private-sector service companies and agencies to improve the lives of these workers by bringing them up to the standard of their public sector counterparts.