NORWALK, Conn. – The deadline had come and gone, and Local 2405 was not in the running to collect Norwalk’s garbage, if the city decides to outsource the task.
“While we did have a serious discussion about the pros and cons about submitting a bid, we all agreed to a person that it was the principle and the proper position to take to not submit a bid and in essence be put in the position of bidding against ourselves and on our own work, so we will not participate in this process today,” said Larry Dorman, public affairs representative for Council 4 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Union members and politicians attacked the administration of Mayor Richard Moccia for the way the process has been conducted.
Milt Giddeons, president of Local 2405, called the invitation for the workers to bid on the contract “cynical and “bogus,” saying it was “asking us to reapply for our jobs.”
“It’s insulting and demoralizing,” said Giddeons. “The mayor, as far we are concerned, is just stabbing us.”
The local has been asking for a meeting with the mayor for three years without success, Giddeons said. “As far as we are concerned, this has been planned from the get-go, to send this out to sanitation.”
Three Democratic Common Councilmen accompanied the union members in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. Council President Carvin Hilliard (District B) said the union members feel the process was unfair. “The fact that they feel there is a flaw in the process needs to be investigated.”
Matt Miklave (District A) said every member of the council made a statement that they wanted input in the process. “The process of a RFP involves serious policy decisions,” he said. “There was no input. A few people in the dead of night put out a 300-page RFP without any public input, without any public analysis, and gave 30 days for these guys to fight for their jobs. It takes a while to put together a 300-page RFP, and I am certain that this deal has been in the works for a long time.”
“Matt has put it to you straight,” said David Watts (District A). “Norwalk has turned into Wisconsin. There’s a lot of unrest between labor unions. It seems like a pattern to union bust. That’s unfortunate,”
Moccia did not respond to a request for comment.
Hal Alvord, director of the Department of Public Works, disputed Miklave’s statement, saying the 322-page RFP was issued in the afternoon of May 16.
“We never take RFPs or bid packages to the council for input,” he said. “That’s a staff function.”
Alvord said he spent an hour with Giddeons, handed him the paperwork and reminded him that AFSCME had submitted bids in other cities. He had hoped the local would do so here.
The deadline was Tuesday. The city has received proposals from City Carting and Finochhio Carting.
The matter would probably come before the council in August, Miklave said. “I think we have eight votes on the council,” he said. “Let’s put it this way, if everybody keeps their word this will go down to defeat.”
“So far, the Republicans have voted in lockstep with the mayor; they have not broken ranks,” Hilliard said.
Norwalk is trying to find the most economical way of providing the same level of service at a lower cost, Alvord said. If the city outsources, eight DPW workers will be offered other jobs in the department and take a pay cut. Alvord said the city would save $1 million a year after outsourcing was established.
The union would fight regardless, Dorman said. “The arbitration decision provides a mechanism for the city to attempt to privatize,” he said. “We would be out here, even if no jobs were at stake. We fight privatization wherever it is. … It’s a bad deal.”