County Executive Chris Abele has decided to award the $164 million dollar county transit contract to a new company, MV Transportation, and drop Milwaukee Transport Services (MTS), the non-profit operation that has run the county bus system for decades...
The not-for profit operator would be replaced by MV Transportation, a privately held corporation based in Texas, whose website says it “provides passenger transportation management, operations, and related services to jurisdictional and private entities around the world.” ...
However, once a new entity takes over, the contracts for all union workers would have to be renegotiated, and the new company may push for more efficiencies. Anticipating that, the bus drivers’ union, ATU 998, has been circulating a PowerPoint presentation opposing the move to a for-profit management firm.
When asked if he expected wage or benefit givebacks, Abele said “I honestly don’t know. I can tell you that was not the goal. The goal was better services and to keep fares down.”In this instance, Abele is being naive, stupid or devious. Or maybe it's just his typical cliched response/excuse, providing little insight into his actual thought-process, giving little explanation as to how he decided a major program change for the county. "How was I to know they'd save money by cutting corners and wages?"
Privatization is always about cutting benefits, decreasing pay, and/or breaking unions. I'd like the county executive to explain how he believes this move will "keep fares down" while providing better service.
Typically, in cases like this, the managers continue to receive lofty salaries (and more often than not actually get paid more), while the workers see their pay and benefits slashed.
It would be one thing if the pay and benefits of present workers were guaranteed to remain intact, whilst the new company was also making assurances of more routes and improvements to other services. But this seems like more of the hope-and-prayer variety of public policy decision-making.
Does Abele really believe lower-paid, disgruntled workers are going to provide better service? Otherwise, what exactly are the cost-saving methods this new company is going to initiate that are going to reap big rewards for the county? Are there any clawbacks or stipulations in the new contract?
I guess some politicians feel news-grabbing headlines prove they're doing something positive for their community.
For Further Reading:
Walker's Privatization Debacle