On July 2, Art Fuentes, Riverside County Waste Management Senior Engineering Technician, delivered the following letter to the Board of Supervisors on behalf of his co-workers.
By SEIU 721 members in Riverside County Waste Management Department
As workers, residents, taxpayers, and voters of the Inland region, we are greatly concerned that Riverside County government officials are attempting to privatize the county-owned landfill system and sacrifice the jobs of hardworking people in the Riverside County Waste Management Department.
Not only are SEIU 721 members’ jobs at stake, but so too are the quality public services we provide to residents.
We understand that during these difficult economic times local governments look for creative ways to generate revenue, but handing over control of our county’s assets is not in the best interests of Riverside County residents. The workers at Riverside County Waste Management Department work extremely efficiently, and by doing so control costs, provide services that reduce the burden on taxpayers and maintain transparent operations.
Private operators, however, will only work to maximize profits–not public services, not jobs and certainly not fair wages. Corporations are driven by one goal–to deliver profits to themselves and their shareholders. Privately operated landfills may mean an increase in tipping fees and a loss of local jobs for residents of Riverside County putting our fragile regional economy at risk.
Do we really want to hand over local control of our landfills to large corporations?
Currently, Riverside County has 32 inactive landfills. A private company has no economic incentive to properly maintain these inactive sites, as they represent only costs. Private operators will maximize profits and minimize the costs of maintaining inactive sites–opening the door to the financial and environmental risks associated with improper management of toxic materials.
In contrast, Riverside County Waste Department prides itself on the ability to comply with the strict regulatory requirements for inactive sites to ensure that they are properly maintained, and will continue to do so. Since we are a not-for-profit agency, we invest in a sustainable and safe environment for the public.
Is the short-term benefit of handing over control of our landfills to a private corporation worth it?
We don’t think so.
Please–don’t be swayed by big business money.
Reject privatizing our landfills.
Our community and its residents come first.
We would like to offer petitions signed by an overwhelming majority (92%) of SEIU 721 members at Riverside County Waste Management Department stating that we oppose the solicitation of offers to privatize our Department and the County Landfill System. We hope that you will accept these petitions for consideration as you make your decisions regarding the privatization of county landfills.
An overwhelming majority of SEIU 721 members in Waste Management signed a petition of opposition to the privatization of the department. On July 2, members attended the Board of Supervisor’s meeting, where Art Fuentes delivered the petition.
After Fuentes spoke, Supervisor Tavaglione offered a motion to abandon the process. A vote was taken, and on a 3-1 (with one abstention), his motion passed. Members of the Waste Department cheered and hugged after the meeting, knowing they had worked to save jobs and provide a voice for hard-working families.
North County Times/UT San Diego: