As the edge of summer burns into early autumn, students across the country are going back to school. Most are returning to friends and meeting teachers, but students at Illinois’ Barrington High School are arriving this year to signs that read, “Can’t live on $8.50,” and shouts of “Devuelvenos nuestros salarios!” (Give us back our wages!)
A majority of the school’s contracted janitors—organized by the Service Employees International Union—are striking because, after the Barrington school district renewed a contract with its employer in June, their wages were cut from $9.77 an hour. Already without sick days and health insurance, the janitors are now faced with even lower poverty wages.
As our publication, Making the Grade? Questions to Ask About School Services Privatization, discusses, school districts often don’t save money when they outsource support positions rather than keep them in-house. When contractors aim to maximize profit,
Last week, in a powerful affirmation of the common good, commissioners in Tennessee’s Johnson County unanimously opposed the privatization of the state prison within their county’s limits. A response to fears that the state government could soon outsource management of the Northeast State Correctional Complex, the resolution reads like a checklist of what democracy and public control can provide a community.
The “no” vote was prompted by the state government’s recent exploration of outsourcing the management of state properties, including prisons, hospitals, parks and even the University of Tennessee. State officials have also been trying to manage a shortage of prison officers after introducing a controversial overtime policy statewide to cut costs.
But the Johnson County commissioners recognize that outsourcing isn’t the answer: “Any type of privatization would be detrimental to our county, citizens and staff of Northeast Correctional Complex.” They also honored public service by dedicating a day each year in recognition of the prison’s current staff.
This week, the American Correctional Association (ACA) will hold its annual conference in Indianapolis, where thousands of government corrections officials, including wardens, jail administrators and sheriffs, will attend workshops and connect with their peers from across the country. Workshops include best practices for successful reentry programs for released inmates and working in corrections across generations.
But many workshops and events will feature a Who’s Who of private corrections companies, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), GEO Group, Aramark, Corizon and Telmate.
Those companies should be familiar—many have been prominent in reports we’ve released over the past few years detailing the suffering of inmates in private hands, such as thousands of medical malpractice claims and stories about maggots appearing in prison food.
On the eve of the ACA conference, we have released a new report revealing how such conferences allow corrections companies to influence government officials in ways outside the public’s oversight.
The problems are well documented. Northrop Grumman botched the upgrade to New York City’s 911 systems while billing the city $300,000 to $430,000 annually for each of their 137 consultants. A $132 million dollar contract to upgrade phones and Internet services for municipal agencies in Orange County, California is already $13 million over budget while municipal employees report repeated outages and failed solutions from the contractor, Xerox. And who can forget all those failed Obamacare exchange websites brought to us by mega-information technology contractors such as CGI and Oracle?
For too long, local and state governments have turned over control of their critical digital infrastructure to companies claiming they could do the work cheaper and faster than public employees. But after the last few years of failures, cost overruns, and plain old shoddy work, local leaders are finally realizing that in this digital age,
Halloween is the time of year dedicated to scary stories, and in In the Public Interest report, “Out of Control,” there are 26 frightening and factual tales of how the push for government outsourcing is hurting taxpayers around the country.
You will be horrified by the real-life examples of Americans tricked by privatization, from a nun fighting cancer who was wrongly dumped from food stamps and Medicaid to foster children placed in severely abusive homes. Privatization is something to be feared when our elected officials aren’t carefully protecting the public’s interest.
We work every day to prevent future privatization horror stories from creeping and crawling their way into our democracy. Because just like Chicago, which leased its parking meters for 75 years to a Morgan Stanley-led private consortium, a bad privatization deal can haunt a community for generations.
Show off your Halloween spirit and share this terrifying report on twitter using the hashtag #PrivatizationHorror.