Local 355 Administrative Clerical Employees

Pushing Back Against Privatization

As private companies increasingly attempt to buy our nation's public assets, local communities are pushing  back.

In West Haven, City Councilman David Forsyth Jr. introduced his Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda at the same time the Board of Education and City Council voted to outsource school food services to Sodexo, a multi-national company that contracts with governments, schools and universities.

Forsyth said his Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda "will put in place stronger standards for evaluating the privatization of public services to prevent Wall Street from buying up our beautiful community to pad their pockets."

Members of AFSCME Local 2706 and 1303-410, the bargaining units that represent West Haven school cafeteria employees, are raising their voice against mindless outsourcing as they await resolution of unfair labor practice complaints filed by Council 4 against the West Haven Board of Education.

Union members are also sharing their concerns with West Haven parents and the Board of Education in a memo challenging Sodexo's performance.

"I'm a resident of West Haven. The money should stay in our town and not go to the corporations," Local 2706 President Louise Martone said. "Privatization is not the answer."

In Bristol, more than school cafeteria workers and their union, AFSCME Local 2267, are facing a similar struggle that has caught the attention of the community as it pits dedicated workers against politicians desperate to hire an outside contractor (Whitson's) at any cost.

The Board of Education recently rejected a proposed settlement that would have tabled outsourcing the cafeteria workers' jobs in return for significant economic concessions -- prompting Council 4 to file an unfair labor practice against the Board because one of their members signed off on the tentative agreement in negotiations.

Sharon Petersen, center, and Bristol school cafeteria workers.

“We’re not here for the dollar amount,” veteran cafeteria worker Sharon Peterson told the Bristol Press. “We truly care about the kids.”

Peterson, along with her co-workers, lives and pays taxes in Bristol. Her own kids have attended Bristol schools.

She bristles when politicians and privateers tell her that feeding students can done be done on the cheap. “Try teaching them when they haven’t eaten,” she said.

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