Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reprint from "MEA VOTES"

What does Virg Bernero think about outsourcing education jobs to private companies?

Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero opposes the outsourcing of public school employees' jobs to private companies -- and he supports efforts to reform state law that prohibits collective bargaining over the issue.

Bernero, a Democrat who currently serves as mayor of Lansing, faces Rep. Andy Dillon in the Aug. 3 primary. Five Republicans will face off in the Republican primary on the same date.
MEA recommends Bernero for governor because of his strong support for public education and education employees.

MEA Votes recently asked Bernero questions about outsourcing. Here are his answers:

Q: Should public schools outsource the jobs of education employees to private companies?

A: No. As governor, I won't rely on gimmicks like outsourcing of school jobs to solve our budget woes. Support staff are as essential to our education system as teachers. They are part of our school's culture and help nurture a positive learning environment. We also need to be sure the people working with our kids have the proper training and background checks that assure our kids are safe when they are at school.

Q: Do you support legislation that would remove the prohibition against bargaining over privatization/outsourcing (or the impact of privatization/outsourcing) that is contained in PERA?

A: Yes. Privatization and outsourcing should be a subject of collective bargaining.

Q: Should school districts be required to collectively bargain with local unions the decision to outsource education jobs to private companies?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have any experience with privatization?

A: As part of reorganizing Lansing city government to focus on core services, printing services were contracted to a union print shop because of the cost of maintaining an annex office and replacing aging printing machinery. No city employees lost their job as a result.

Q: Have you ever outsourced the work of public employees to a private company?

A: As described above, we have shifted some non-core services work from public employees to the private sector, but we have never laid off a single worker as a result. To counterbalance, we have also "insourced" work that was being done by private companies and is now being done by city employees.

Q: Should educational support professionals receive fair wages and health care benefits?

A: Absolutely. I support fair wages and health care for all.

Q: What do you think about districts that outsource the work of employees in order to eliminate health care or retirement benefits for those employees?

A: I disagree.

Q: As you know, private company employees perform many non-instructional and administrative jobs in schools around Michigan. Should private companies be permitted to take over regular instructional positions, such as teaching jobs, in all public schools, too?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: Often, private companies fail to deliver promised savings. In these instances, who should be held accountable -- and, how?

A: Private companies should be held to account for all contracted deliverables. If they do not deliver on their promises, they should have to pay penalties or lose the contract or both.

Q: Should jobs at public colleges and universities be privatized?

A: No.

Q: Considering the impact that outsourcing has on local and state (un)employment rates, tax collections, and consumer spending, should the state intervene to slow the trend of privatization because of the detrimental impact on communities and Michigan?

A: Yes. While we are all responsible to make our educational system better and improve opportunities for all Michiganders, we should never consider balancing the budgets on the backs of our teachers, aides, and support staff.