SEIU Addresses Privatization at Civil Service Commission Meeting

SEIU Local 517M Technical Unit President George Heath addressed the Civil Service Commission at their May 7, 2014 meeting to voice objections to privatization trends that have been occurring in Michigan State Government.

View media coverage: Lansing State Journal

View President Heath’s statement below:

Commission member, Ladies and Gentleman thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning.

I am an MDOT employee of 25 years and before that I was employed by a Consulting Engineer, worked for a City Engineering Department, and did Construction work.  But my best tasks and the ones that means the most are being a parent, citizen, and tax payer. 

In the 25 years with the State I have seen things change from an organization that did most aspects of our work to doing only a small portion of the duties.  By design we are losing control of our public functions.  I have seen outsourced contracts increase to the point that they are now a “CASH COW” for the consulting firms.  In 1997 we had consultant contracts numbering 148 which had a dollar amount of $14,734,969 dollars.  In 2013 we had 766 consultant contracts worth over $129 million dollars! The system is broken, and in order to provide fiscal responsibility to the tax payers of this state it needs to be fixed. 

As part of your job as commissioners I’m not sure how you could possibly have time to review and approve every contract.  Today in MDOT we see contracts that seem to get extended time, and again with nothing more than a signature to increase contracts by $250,000!  There is no longer competitive bidding or cash savings on these contracts!  I believe that is part of the criteria for outsourcing State of Michigan work is it not?

We no longer have consulted workers hired doing part time or intermittent work we have outsourced workers that work the same, or longer hours than State Employees.  As an example we have a contracted employee that works everyday side by side state employees.  These people no longer meet the criteria of civil service schedule A being part time or intermittent.

I have provided data showing breakdowns of Lead Technician wages both in State employment and some of the outsourced consultant companies.  This data itself is disturbing but the real telling issue is the cost now associated with this approved outsourcing of work.  As an MDOT worker I am a Lead Technician, and I make $26.67 per hour.  I work with and oversee private employees that make up to $39.70.  This is $13.03 an hour more than state employees at the same level!

As a taxpayer I find this to be very wrong that we would spend this amount of extra money to get the same work.  How is this fiscally responsible?  How many miles of road or pot holes could be filled if the funds were handled properly.

SEIU, and the coalition of state unions have put together documents like “The New Solutions Report”, and the Pure Michigan Waste web site that show some of the issues we have discussed, and I encourage you to look at the breakdowns I have provided and these documents.

Commissioners I ask you to address these issues so that we as citizens and tax payers get the best bang for our dollar.

Thank You,



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