Ryan Hunsicker, Allentown chapter leader of SEIU, said changes made by Pawlowski in the final proposed lease agreement are very “troublesome” to city employees he represents. He predicted 98 percent of about 110 employees working for the city’s water and sewer systems will want to be “bumped back” into the bargaining unit rather than going to work for whatever company wins the lease.
“Bumping” refers to city employees going to other city departments, sometimes into totally unfamiliar jobs, bumping other people out of those jobs. But if they can’t handle the new jobs, they could be out of work.
Hunsicker said mistrust in the administration is growing, because of “facts that just aren’t the facts.” He said the mayor’s contention that “nobody’s going to lose their job is a complete fallacy. There’s no possible way he can retain all those people coming back into the city.”
Mike Duffy of Washington, D.C., deputy director for SEIU Local 32BJ, explained why city workers will not want to work for a company leasing the water and sewer systems. He said pension protections have been gutted in the final version of the lease agreement. Unlike an earlier version of the agreement, he said bidders no longer have to match pension benefits that workers now enjoy as city employees “or even provide any retirement protections whatsoever.”
Duffy also said the final proposed lease no longer caps mandatory contributions workers must make toward their retirement plans.
He maintained the proposed agreement gives a competitive advantage to bidders that have “lousy retirement plans.”
Duffy said the mayor’s final version of the proposed lease constitutes “a betrayal of trust” by Pawlowski and that the process has been “clouded with lies and misdirection.”
“This makes us wonder about what other changes we haven’t discovered,” he said. “It calls into question the transparency of this process. We’re counting on City Council to be a backstop to these kinds of shenanigans and ultimately voting against privatizing such a vital service.”