Utility Workers 335 fight against sale shed light on onerous bid demands by anti-union company
Arnold, MO – The City of Arnold last week rejected an effort by the anti-union Missouri American Water Company to buy the city’s sewer system in part because “It was clear that not enough assurances could be provided (by the company) to ensure the protection of the City’s residents or the city employees who were proposed to join American Water,” Arnold Mayor Ron Counts said.
This is a major victory for Utility Workers Local 335 who spearheaded a campaign to derail American Waters effort to buy the city system by setting up a web site – www.StopArnoldSewerSale.com – that provided citizens with the facts about the many flaws in the company’s proposal.
[frame src="https://labortribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/arnold-520.jpeg" width="270" height="350" align="left" style="2" linkstyle="none"]QUESTIONED TREATMENT OF WORKERS
“The mayor and the Council were right to question American Water’s potential treatment of its city employees who now take care of the sewer systems given what they have done to not only our members in St. Louis, but union members working for them across the nation,” said Local 335 President Tom Schneider.
“We are pleased the City Council rejected this flawed scheme,” he added.
In its unsolicited bid to expand its empire by acquiring Arnold’s wastewater system, Missouri American Water demanded the City impose a nearly 20 percent hike in ratepayers’ sewer bills before the sale was completed. In addition, the company demanded agreement from the city that they would NOT oppose any future rate hikes requests before the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC).
The union pointed out that in nearby Cedar Hill, Mo., American Water had raised sewer rates more than 94 percent over the past four years and is currently seeking permission from the PSC to hike Cedar Hill sewer rates an additional 31 percent.
POOR MANAGEMENT HISTORY
Mayor Counts said that the City Council rejected the sale after conducting a thorough review of the company’s unsolicited bid, as well as its “operational and management history.”
Utility workers at American Water have first-hand experience with the company’s philosophy of placing corporate profits ahead of all other concerns, Local 335 Vice President Al Ratermann said.
“In St. Louis, for example, members of Local 335 have been working without a new contract for months because of management demands to impose unfair concessions, including the unlimited right to eliminate every employee’s job through outside contracting,” Ratermann said.
The Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) has been successful in recently defeating similar takeover attempts in Rialto, Calif. and Trenton, N.J.
The UWUA represents 2,500 American Water employees in Missouri and ten other states.