FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The city has responded to an ad that ran in the Journal Gazette on Sunday. The ad suggested that the city council may have been motivated to repeal collective bargaining as a precursor to privatizing the city’s utilities.
A statement from Fort Wayne spokesperson John Perlich claims that “[t]he City of Fort Wayne has no interest in privatizing our award-winning water and sewer services.”
The ad claims eliminating union contracts would make changing city utilities easier. An agent for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, Lloyd Osborne, told NewsChannel 15 on Sunday that there had been “rumblings” about plans to privatize or restructure city utilities for more than a week.
NewsChannel 15 has not determined who or what organization paid for the ad.
The City of Fort Wayne sent the following release on Monday:
Questions have been raised about the possible privatization of Fort Wayne City Utilities. The City of Fort Wayne has no interest in privatizing our award-winning water and sewer services.
Our focus each day is to provide excellent customer service and affordable rates. Private utilities focus on shareholders and profit margins. Our commitment is to our customers and employees.
The questions that have been brought forward are clear examples of how divisive the efforts by City Council to end collective bargaining for non-public safety union employees have become. These attempts at distraction do not assist our collective efforts to invest in the future, attract and retain businesses and jobs, and be a leader in quality of life and neighborhood enhancements.
We strongly commit to all city employees and customers of Fort Wayne City Utilities that we’ll continue to work together to win the future and place our community in the best position possible to continue the unprecedented momentum we’re experiencing.
Tom Henry, Mayor, City of Fort Wayne
Kumar Menon, Director, Fort Wayne City Utilities