The issue of privatization instills the element of competition. And competition is always healthy. Joe Christie, chairman, Texas Commission on Economy and Efficiency in State Government Austin SOME 150 MILES southeast of Dallas, in deep East Texas, amidst the gentle hills, pines, and hardwoods of Nacogdoches, lies the campus of Stephen F. Austin State. University. Nearly every morning for eight years, Dorothy McClelland slipped out of her house, past her sleeping daughter to arrive at work, most days before dawn, at the school’s University Center cafeteria. She began as a line helper, ladling soups and vegetables and what have you, and eventually worked her way up to cashier. She thought of herself as a conscientious worker, the kind who over the years had earned her employer’s trust and respect. “I liked my job. I think I did it well and I liked the people I worked with,” Dorothy McClelland, a 33-year-old single parent, said recently. “Everybody got along real good; we tried to help each other out like brothers and sisters.” Yet it wasn’t long less than two weeks after a private firm last fall took over food service operations at the 12,500-student school that Dorothy McClelland and many of her co-workers were confronted with a variety of unsavory management practices that made working life less than familial. Dorothy McClelland’s troubles with her new employer, ARA Services, Inc., began in September after the death of a close childhood friend. The morning of the funeral she received permission from her supervisor, Pat Simon, to leave work early. Simon also recommended McClelland notify another supervisor, W.E. Boney, of her plans, which -she did promptly. Several hours after McClelland returned to work the following morning, Friday, September 13, Doug Goade, the . Bill Adler is a freelance writer in Austin. director of ARA’s campus food service, called her into his office. “He told me Mr. Boney said I walked off the job without telling anyone. I told him that was wrong, that both Pat Simon and Mr. Boney knew. Then he asked me if I was accusing Mr. Boney of lying. I said I was, if that’s what Mr. Boney said, and he had me put it in writing.” Goade then told McClelland her supposed lapse in judgment was “OK” but she should be sure to get approval in the. future. “I told him again I did get approval, and he told me he didn’t like my attitude and sent me back to work. ” Fifteen minutes later, Doug Goade walked down the hallway from his office to the cafeteria and fired Dorothy McClelland. p 4 4 RIVATIZATION” is one of those buzz words of the Reagan era “cost benefit” and “supply-side” are others that spring to mind that a few long years ago was just a gleam in the eye of some zealous free-marketeers. Nowadays, the idea of privatization turning over government functions to private industry has replaced the New Frontier, the Great Society, and the New Deal. Faced with the Reagan administration’s slashing of federal aid to states and municipalities, public -officials embrace privatization as a more efficient, cheaper means of providing traditional governmental services. The other side of the coin, critics argue, is poor service without accountability, the displacement of workers, and higher costs to the consumer. In Texas, you’ll now find entrepreneurs running Immigration and Naturalization Service detention centers, operating commuter bus systems, teaching remedial reading. Corporate-run prisons and jails “a new growth industry” according to one Wall Street brokerage house are sure to become fixtures in the state, says John Naisbitt, “Mr. Megatrends.” “Injecting private ownership into prisons,” Naisbitt has written, “will do for the prison industry what private ownership has done for the hospital business make it more competitive.” While the state corrections board debates the virtues of going private, the City of Houston already hires private firms to provide security for its buildings, tow illegally parked cars, sue for delinquent taxes, install and service street lights, oversee construction of buildings, and build and repair streets, water and sewer lines. It is considering seeking bids to operate city parking garages. The City of Dallas is studying the possibility of engaging private industry to supplement a variety of services, from administering the employee benefit program to driving fire department ambulances. “Rather than spending time doing its merry little dance with city employees, a city can spend time “Dallas is . . . so prestigious and important nationally that it could give the whole privatization effort in this country momentum.” monitoring the effectiveness of its services,” says Madsen Pirie, a British consultant to the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based conservative. think-tank. Pirie, whom the Dallas Morning News called “the architect of .. . Margaret Thatcher’s efforts to cut government costs [read: bust unions],” not long ago met with City Manager Charles Anderson. He told Anderson that Dallas’s privatization efforts could serve as a national example. “Dallas is a very progressive city . . . so prestig ious and important nationally that it could give the whole privatization effort in this country momentum.” AT THE END of September, Stephen F. Austin’s short-order cook Sallie Joe Daniels began her pregnancy leave with an assurance from ARA’s Doug Goade she would have her job back, a job she held for eight years, when she returned. On November 21, Daniels reported back to work. Goade told her there was no work for her but that she would be called back at the first opening. Sallie Joe Daniels is still out of work. In an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint she filed in March, Daniels said she knew of at least 15 food service workers hired by ARA since November 21 Kathy Brewer is one of the fortunate ones. In early December she came down Under New Management Food Service Workers Get a Helping of “Privatization” By Bill Adler THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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