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Wake-up call

No privatization!


New York City's "economy shows resilience,” says the Independent Budget Office (IBO), which "projects that the City will end 2024 with an additional $3.6 billion in surplus above the Mayor's Office of Management and Budget (OMB ) estimates." While making suggestions for savings, it also notes that "the local economy continues to rebound. Citing “existing vacancies and hiring attrition,” the IBO projects $2.4 billion in savings

The city's job growth is impressive, with employment at 4.7 million, which the IBO notes is 99.6 percent of the January 2020 peak and likely to grow. Last month, the OMB made an upward adjustment of its revenue forecasts, "in line with its improved economic forecast."

The nonpartisan IBO, which has no policymaking authority, expects collections of real-estate-related taxes to jump around 9 percent every year until 2027 and the city's revenue from general sales taxes and hotel taxes to also climb. It notes that "corporate taxes continue to come in strong on the heels of another record-breaking year, and collections this year have not shown any signs of softening.”  

The IBO’s estimate for unincorporated business tax receipts is also rosy. In economics, as in so many other aspects of life, blessings of the present may yield to curses of the future. Windfall at dawn may bring austerity at dusk. Prosperity will expire with the last breath of federal stimulus funding, says the doom and gloom industry.   

But let's remember that such projections are a big part of the playbook of politicians and their labor negotiators as a pretext to justifying wage and benefits stagnation. Regardless, the city is known to have a mountainous stash of reserve funds that it could prudently use without jeopardizing its ability to meet its budgetary obligations.

Against this backdrop of reality, the Adams administration has made a jaundiced decision to eliminate the Job Training Participant Program. Local Law 63 requires an assessment "whether procuring the private services would lead to a reduction in city-funded positions,” notes amNewYork, and establishes "a procedure the city must abide by when it solicits contract work valued at over $200,000.”

The city was remiss, and it was no accident. It plans to transition work from current union members to private contractors.  Whether or not it would be temporary, as promised, hardly matters. 

It would set a precedent that would be dangerous not only to the District Council 37 members who would be instantly hit by this action, but to all union members at some point. Henry Garrido, DC37’s executive director, for argument's sake, accepts at face value the city's alleged "unprecedented obstacles" (such as the sponsorship of asylum seekers), but he also insists that "city workers should not be the scapegoat, nor the target of these reactionary budget reductions.” 

He correctly calls the privatization grab "costly, short-sighted" and "an illegal disservice to the working-class people.” Short-sighted to the point of blind.

DC 37 has as many locals as Roger Maris hit home runs, covers more titles than can be stacked on a voracious bookworms' multi-tiered shelf, and has more members than the capital of Florida has residents. It is suing the Adams administration in Manhattan State Supreme Court. The litigation is no mere procedural formality.   

It is essential that they do so, whether or not these directly affected employees are dues-payers, because privatization is the slipperiest of slopes and at the bottom of that slope would be a cesspool.

The nearly 3,000 targeted employees Sanitation and Parks Opportunity Program workers un-begrudgingly earn their public assistance benefits by doing a variety of tasks, from building maintenance to removal of garbage and snow. They exemplify the responsible, honorable and dignified attitude towards labor and reward that is supposedly embedded in our tradition.

But if the city is not thwarted, these workers will lose their health benefits too. 

The city is not only pulling the rug out from under them, but the floor on which their futures stand as well.  This collateral damage is part of what the city calls a "budget modification." Its overstuffed Office of Gibberish and Jive has a euphemism for brash scheme: Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG). 

The city should give us all "pegs" for our noses, because their scheme reeks. There have been two breaches: of law and of good faith. It is treachery.  

These workers are in good standing but will be bludgeoned not by a pay cut but by an economic evisceration from which they will bleed out. The Parks & Recreation Department and Sanitation Department will save diddly squat from decapitating these valuable workers from the payroll. 

The Standard and Professional Services Local Law 63 should preserve, not imperil city workers' security. Replacing unionized public employees with consultants and contractors is, Garrido notes, a "blatant violation of Local Law 63" and is "unfair and anti-union,” no matter its duration.  

Local Law 63 is written in clear legal language.  Maybe the city needs it to be translated into one of the many dozens of native tongues it offers the public for translation services, including Tibetan, Wolof, Dari, Soninke and Twi.

Garrido is not a personal enemy of the mayor’s and supports his so-far fruitless quest for federal funding. The mayor "has been given a real raw deal with this migrant situation.” It is not universally accepted that this is pertinent. It may be a pretext for leaving the portals to our city ajar, less for asylum seekers than for privatizers.

Privatization is a menace that has hovered over labor relations in our fractious town for decades.  Management has used it as a coercive "carrot and stick" strategy against unions even before former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani bullied city workers to wring concessions during nominal negotiations a generation ago.   

In 1995, The New York Times published an article, "Threat of Privatization Is Robbing Public Employees of Clout.” Its focus was not limited to New York City, though any signal that our city emits tends to prove to be a sign of the times.

Privatization is a disease that is often marketed as a cure for inefficiency and needless excessive costs but is prized by its proponents for its calculated side effects of diminishing workers' freedom, union solidarity and prosperity. It's wormed its way into education, law enforcement, prison administration and an encyclopedic range of specialized interests and industries that belong strictly within the government's purview.  

An article in the Harvard Business Review around 20 years ago stated, "While it is clearly impossible to decouple privatization from the broader social and political issues, it seems logical that privatization decisions can and should be based primarily on pragmatic analyses of whether agreed-on ends can best be met by public or private providers.”

By that reasoning, conceding a living wage could be deemed wasteful spending. Privatization is always a hornet's nest which offers very little wiggle room for middle fingers.

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    DC 37 Garrido files lawsuit over privatization of Union jobs.In the meantime he privatizes NYC Medicare Retirees EARNED Healthcare to NON-Union companies. Can you say hypocrite !

    Wednesday, December 27, 2023 Report this