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Fresno’s Next Boondoggle
by Posted by Mike Rhodes (editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
Tuesday Jan 11th, 2011 10:56 AM
The article below is from the January 2011 issue of the Community Alliance newspaper in Fresno. Since the article was written, the City of Fresno postponed the hearing on privatization of the sanitation workers and re-scheduled it for Thursday, January 27 at 3 p.m. Ironically, Allied Waste (one of the companies involved in the Fresno privatization effort) is a sponsor of this year’s Martin Luther King events. Allied will have a large ad in the MLK program book and a table at the events. MLK was in Memphis supporting sanitation workers when he was assassinated in 1968.
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Fresno’s Next Boondoggle
By John Veen

On December 9, a divided Fresno City Council voted in favor of privatizing the city’s commercial solid waste operations. Now, 100 drivers represented by IUOE [Inter-national Union of Operating Engineers] Stationary Local 39 are facing layoffs. These are some of the best drivers in the nation who, year in and year out, win top awards for safety.

The decision was rationalized by the mayor and the City Council majority as a false choice between public safety and “non-core” services, like commercial trash pickup. But the mayor, the city manager and a right-wing majority on the board have been moving in this direction for a long time, at the exclusion of other mon-ey-saving ideas.

By “franchising” the service to two private companies, the city hopes to skim more than two million dollars from the solid waste operation every year and put it into the general fund. The two million dollars will come from franchise fees paid by the private vendors in a backdoor trick that allows the city to take targeted money and spend it on unrelated services.

Bottom line: It is a hidden tax on local businesses. Now, local restaurants, hair salons and apartment owners will be paying for miscellaneous city services twice—once through normal taxes and again through their trash bills. It is a rip-off for them, it is a disaster for our members and it is another bad City Council decision that will have consequences far into the future.

We have one more chance to kill this narrow-minded, dishonest scheme. There is a final vote on January 6, and we hope the new council majority will resist balancing the city budget on the backs of the workers.

*****
John Veen is a business representative with IUOE Local 39. He can be reached at jveen [at] local39.org.

§John Veen
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Jan 11th, 2011 10:56 AM
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§From the 1968 march in Memphis
by Posted by Mike Rhodes Tuesday Jan 11th, 2011 10:56 AM
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