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PSN on June 7, 2007 - 7:39am
Illinois legislators have taken a stand against using subcontracting to undermine benefits for school support workers by passing HB 1347, a bill that will establish guidelines for school subcontracting across the state.
Corporate interests have seen privatizing public education as a potential goldmine for years. While the public has overwhelmingly rejected vouchers and most other for-profit education schemes, many cash-strapped communities have been tempted to subcontract out support services, such as food services, bus drivers and custodians, which has often meant trying to save money by chopping the wages and benefits of the lowest-paid workers in the school system.
Instead, HB 1347 requires that:
- First, school districts must establish that subcontracting will actually save the district money, rather than just lining the pockets of private companies;
- Second, subcontracting decisions must be subject to public discussion and input;
- Third, no subcontracting for union workers can occur until their union contract expires;
- And lastly, any subcontractor must save the district money through more efficient management, not by paying lower benefits.
The Illinois law adds to laws across the states that are increasingly demanding that public contracting benefit both the public and the employees effected by those contracting decisions.