On July 27, Winnipeg city councillors approved a management recommendation to contract out all solid waste collection in the city, despite CUPE’s hard evidence that taxpayers would not save money.
CUPE mounted a campaign to show that privatization would cost more, but it couldn’t overpower management’s main argument that contracting out would save tax dollars.
About 80 CUPE workers, members of CUPE 500, collect trash in the central and south portions of the city. Canadian Waste, a subsidiary of the American corporation Waste Management Inc. (WMI), collects the rest.
The decade-long debate over public vs. private collection escalated with the election of a pro-business mayor last year. He and some councillors have advocated privatization while showing little regard for workers. In the local media, one councillor referred to temporary workers who would lose their jobs through privatization as mere “casualties of war.” But CUPE isn’t just angry that members are going to be out of work.
“Privatizing the rest of the collection service will mean the city loses control over the contractors,” said CUPE 500 president Mike Davidson. “And ultimately we know that residents will get less service at higher cost.”
For months, CUPE was involved in an intense campaign to win public support. While many residents said they wanted to keep the trash service public, this did not seem to affect the city’s decision.
(Source: www.cupe500.mb.ca and Organize, Summer 2005)