We Own It Weekly: Public libraries to the rescue!

We Own It Weekly logo.

Every week, OPSEU’s We Own It campaign publishes a newsletter called The We Own It Weekly. It’s a round-up of news and information about the growing movement to protect communities from privatization.

And here’s the latest issue:

Library fans to the rescue! Forbes forced to retract privatization article

When Forbes magazine published an article earlier this week suggesting libraries should be privatized into Amazon stores, it provoked a “shhhhh!” so angry and loud that within 24 hours, the business magazine had apologized and deleted the article altogether.

“Libraries play an important role in our society. This article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise, and has since been removed,” a Forbes spokesperson said in a statement published by the website Quartz.

“The communities that would be hardest hit by libraries closing would be the underprivileged,” Quartz wrote. “Libraries provide free computers and internet access for students and people who can’t afford them at home. They also provide free ESL and reading classes; services for the elderly, college hopefuls, and entrepreneurs; and meals for kids at story time.”

Speaking of libraries … coming soon to theatre near you

There’s a new movie you’ve got to check out, and we’re not just saying that because it’s called The Public.

Written by and starring Emilio Estevez (of Breakfast Club and Mighty Ducks fame), The Public is a “David versus Goliath story that tackles some of our society’s most challenging issues, homelessness and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: your public library.”

Here’s the trailer:

For CEOs, privatization is like winning the lottery

The evidence is clear: everyday people lose when public services are privatized. Costs go up, and quality goes down.

But for one small group of people, privatization is like a winning lottery ticket. It’s a jackpot for CEOs and corporate board members.

Take Hydro One. CEO pay jumped by 600 per cent in the first year after it was privatized in 2015: from $745,000 to $4.5 million. It jumped another 50 per cent the year after, to more than $6 million.

Ontario’s new premier has orchestrated the resignation of Hydro One’s lavishly paid CEO, but that resignation will cost citizens anywhere from $9 to $14 million in severance and stock-option costs. And there’s no indication that the next CEO will be paid much less.

But this isn’t just a story about Hydro One. As the British newspaper The Independent found, CEOs hit the “privatization jackpot” every time a public service is privatized.

“Whether or not anyone else gains from privatization, bosses of privatized industries certainly do,” the paper reports, noting that CEO pay doubled at Royal Mail since privatization, and gone up a whopping 1,500 per cent at British Gas since privatization.

“We see the same pattern in rail, in water, in infrastructure: privatization results in an explosion of pay at the top of an organization relative to the rest of the workforce.

“A rising tide of greed lifts all bosses’ boats.”

Atlanta city councillor warns others: Don’t get soaked by water privatization

A prominent figure in Atlanta politics is warning a nearby city that water privatization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“Felicia Moore, now the Atlanta council president, was one of the few official voices objecting to her city’s 1998 water system privatization, which failed after less than five years amid complaints about bad service and rising costs,” says a newspaper called The Reporter.

Atlanta’s water privatization was supposed to be a 20-year deal, but the city pulled the plug because of poor maintenance, understaffing, and requests from the company for tens of millions for “emergency” repairs.