Municipal workers in Tulsa, Oklahoma have proven that the little guy can still fight and win. When privatization threatened to diminish jobs and weaken their local economy, their union decided to resist. They not only kept their jobs but came up with a better, more efficient system for the community as a whole.
The City of Tulsa intended to privatize the jobs of its municipal electricians, plumbers, carpenters, decreasing the city’s payroll, but also potentially encouraging the new contractors to overlook daily hazards and cut corners in order to save money. Although privatization often seems economically beneficial, such efforts to save money typically increase work, and costs to tax payers, because of inefficiencies that privatization creates.
To prevent this, Tulsa’s unionized municipal workers banded together and developed a plan that would not only increase production and keep jobs but also save money. They would shed two automobiles that were not routinely used, update software to make things run more efficiently, and create a gain-share program for the workers themselves. After taking the proposal to local government they were approved to put their plan to work. The Mayor of Tulsa, who has historically taken an anti-union stance, held a conference in February to congratulate the municipal workers for dodging privatization and also to thank them for saving the city almost $224,000 since last year.
Many cities and states are dealing with the issue of cutting costs and jobs by contracting public jobs to private, for-profit companies. However, in this instance, we see that employees can be rewarded for their input and efforts in promoting the local economy. Privatization is kept at bay and the community benefits from its own hard work.
Title: Tulsa city workers win fight vs. privatization with creative strategy
Author: J Sheperd
Publication: People’s World
Date Published: 23 February, 2012
Student Researcher: Julia Hamaker, College of Marin
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman, College of Marin