The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 9, 2013

Staff, union troubled by thought of privatization


Union members packed council chambers to voice their distaste for the council’s consideration of the proposal.

Dale Walter, union representative for WPCF employees, was concerned that the facility would eventually be entirely privatized.

“The accountability is a huge issue with [a third party],” Walter said. “We have a great group of employees down there, a lot over 20 years, who know their job and have been doing their job without a supervisor down there for quite some time.”

Steve Siegel, president of the Southern Iowa Labor Council, AFL-CIO, agreed that the proposal needed to be voted down immediately.

“As far as privatizing the whole place, the only savings would be off employees’ backs,” Siegel said. “You could try to keep wages the same, but over time they would decline. Certainly pension and retirement would be considerably less. Health insurance, vacation, all sorts of benefits would be greatly diminished. You’ve got a system and employees that work. Why risk bringing in another company? Who knows what they’re going to do with it. You would lose control of the facility and the ability to make changes.”

Dick Damm, also a member of the SILC, was in disbelief.

“I can’t believe the city’d even think about taking wages and benefits and throwing them out the door,” Damm said. “I hope to hell this don’t happen here.”

Councilman Bob Meyers said there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that WPCF employees are excellent, “but there are requirements, both federal and state, that have to be met.”

“Why wouldn’t I ask for H.R. Green, the professionals, to at least come up with what would that proposal be, even though I personally think probably hiring a superintendent would be the way to go?” he said.

Councilman Jeremy Weller said the thought of contracting out the entire facility made him uneasy.

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