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Our towns, cities and rural counties face incredible pressure to commercialize and privatize all public services. The transformation of municipalities into business operations is causing major problems for municipal workers and for citizens.

Many municipal workers are facing tremendous workplace change as our employers amalgamate and local public service delivery is reorganized and cut in the drive to slash budgets and minimize public debt. All too often, our members are being faced with service and job cuts. At the same time, we have to contend with employers forcing new job duties on us. The result is fewer staff doing more work, causing major workload problems for workers. At the same time, employers are constantly trying to privatize services, handing over our work to the non-union, low-wage sector.

Our employers reorganize our workplaces and the services we deliver with little or no input from us as workers, or those who use our services. This lack of democratic control leads to poor results that are often more expensive overall. For example, city councils think they can just hand over the operations and ownership of local water systems with little if any public debate or discussion, even though it will cost millions more and means the loss of a valuable public asset that citizens have paid for through taxes.

Moreover, the public is repeatedly told that the services we provide are inefficient, that public sector workers have it easy, and that the private sector is inherently better. As more of our public services erode because of funding cuts, the public has less confidence in and respect for the services and the people who deliver them.

But even though the deck seems stacked against us, weve had our share of victories. When CUPE locals have actively opposed privatization and budget and service reductions, weve often been able to build public support and maintain and improve community services. We must keep building on our successes.