Our country’s good public operators have kept water safe and affordable for most households, but despite their successes, they are coming under attack. Private control of water is threatening their jobs, their livelihoods and the wellbeing of entire communities.
Multinational water corporations are trying to convince elected officials that privatization is a miracle cure for budget deficits and aging water lines. They claim that it will reduce operational costs, but they neglect to advertise that any savings will come from cutting corners, downsizing the workforce, decreasing salaries and wages and impeding unionization. They will turn a public resource and service into a profit center.
These practices are irresponsible. They can lead to service problems and maintenance delays. What’s more, because companies tend to just pocket the difference in labor costs, ratepayers and taxpayers are unlikely to see their bills reduced.
Because of high bills and lost jobs and income, privatization can negatively affect local economies. While workers spend their hard-earned dollars in their community, the multinational corporations operating municipal water systems send earnings generated locally overseas to international stockholders. So, in effect, they transfer money out of town when they cut labor costs to increase their profits.
There are three main ways that private operation and management of water and sewer systems can affect workers and their communities.