AB 1594: Infrastructure financing: transportation: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: contracting.

Preventing unnecessary public private partnerships that outsource AFSCME jobs 

Each year, we fight to protect our members’ work. Current contracting practices often hand over vital work performed by our members to for-profit businesses. Unfortunately, many of the transparency and accountability standards that apply when public workers deliver services do not apply to private companies. While government is ultimately responsible for delivering public services, private contractors are accountable to their shareholders and are not required to disclose important decision making processes to the public. While not all for-profit companies providing public services are bad actors, under the false pretense of maximizing efficiency, some often undercut industry pay standards and deliver substandard services at a higher cost to taxpayers without performing better work. This year, AFSCME fought against legislation that would have outsourced the vital work our members perform to upkeep our state’s infrastructure. 

AB 1594, introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D- Santa Monica), would have added passenger rapid transit (also known as bus rapid transit), subways, and heavy rail to the types of fee-producing infrastructure for which a local government can enter into a public-private partnership (P3). Public-private partnerships have the potential to “outsource” servicing, operations and maintenance work that is traditionally performed by public employees. The California Legislature recently passed a landmark $52 billion transportation infrastructure investment program, the largest in the state’s history and one that AFSCME strongly supported. Now, more than ever, is not the right time to encourage the privatization of valuable public assets – guaranteeing long term returns to private for-profit companies at the expense of taxpayers.

AFSCME reached an agreement with Assemblymember Bloom (D- Santa Monica) that we would not move forward with the bill this year. However, we will continue to discuss ways to bring needed revenue to infrastructure projects without jeopardizing the jobs of our members.