Green Bay School crossing guards angry about city plan to save money www.priavteofficer.com
Green Bay WI May 17 2012 School crossing guards are angry about a city plan to save money by outsourcing their jobs to a private security firm.
The city is considering hiring Per Mar Security Services, based in Davenport, Iowa, to provide crossing guards for schoolchildren throughout the community.
Crossing guards now are city employees who are represented by the Teamsters Union and earn about $12 an hour through the police department.
As private-sector workers, crossing guards fear they would be stripped of their union representation, forced to accept a pay cut and, in a sense, cut off from the community
“I love working for the city,” crossing guard Robert Selissen said. “The city means a lot to me.”
Selissen, a crossing guard for more than 20 years, said he would walk away from the job before he would agree to be transferred to a company based out of state.
“I think they’re making a big mistake,” he added.
The change requires approval from Green Bay aldermen, who are scheduled to begin debating the issue later this month.
City purchasing director Julie Van Oss said the move would save taxpayers money, although she would not disclose projected savings or other details until aldermen have been briefed on the matter.
City staffers accepted proposals from private security firms in March and selected Per Mar from among four suitors. The city would pay the Iowa-based company $339,872 a year, or about $1 million over a three-year period.
Green Bay School District spokeswoman Amanda Brooker said school officials were unaware that the city was considering outsourcing crossing guards.
But as long as service is maintained at high standards, Brooker said, the school district would have no objection to the city’s efforts to find a more economical alternative.
“We’re facing tighter and tighter budgets,” she said. “We’re going to be looking at any way we can to save costs.”
Under an agreement between the two government entities, the city pays for crossing guard services while the school district pays for police officers to serve as school resource officers on various school campuses.
Crossing guards said they have heard the new deal would drop their pay to about $10 an hour and that they would lose other benefits under privatization.
“They’re just giving us a rotten deal all around,” said Debra Pichette, a veteran crossing guard.
Some crossing guards have reached out to the Teamsters for help, but under Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining rules for public employees, there is little the union can do.
Beth Kirchman, business representative for Teamsters Local 662, said state law no longer requires the city to consult with organized labor before outsourcing jobs. Kirchman voiced concern that a private company from out of state would cut corners to save costs and would not concern itself primarily with public safety.
“What is their vested interest in the community?” Kirchman said. “I think safety should be the No. 1 concern — not cost.”
Per Mar officials declined to comment.
Crossing guard Debby Nejedlo said she was disappointed to hear what the city was considering, adding that she likely would quit her job if it got outsourced.
Becoming emotional, Nejedlo noted that some former students have returned after many years to stay in touch with their former crossing guard.
“I see the kids grow up, and I won’t anymore,” she said. “I feel lost, but there’s nothing we can do.”