Trade Workers Call on City to Lessen Number of Outsourced Contracts

Dec 12, 2017

Some Milwaukee residents are up in arms because of two incidents last week involving contract workers for the city.

Two of the workers lost their jobs. But there’s still a call for the city to reduce the number of contract workers it uses, who don’t live in Milwaukee.

So here are two things you don’t typically hear talked about in the same sentence—guns and stickers. But in Milwaukee last week, a KKK sticker on a worker’s lunch cooler caused outrage among some residents.

Also last week, three workers on a city job site were found carrying guns. The discovery also resulted in an outcry. Both incidents involved employees of American Sewer Services, which was doing contract work for the city. The company took disciplinary action against the workers.

At a rally at City Hall on Monday evening around 50 people gathered to applaud the firings. Jacob Flom is chair of the Young Workers Committee for the Milwaukee Area Labor Council.

“As trade unionist, we don’t usually like to see a union brother or sister get fired. But if you’re a Klansman and you’re a threat to our fellow workers, and you’re a threat to your coworkers, people of color, Jewish people, minorities, trade unionists, LGBTQ people, you’re not our union brother,” Flom says.

American Sewer Services is based outside of Hartford and has close to a dozen city contracts.

Flom and others at the rally are calling for the city to stop hiring contractors from outside Milwaukee. Diandre Jackson works for Master Lock. He says he was representing the Milwaukee chapter of the Coalition of Black Unionists.

“You come in, make the money and you go back to wherever you live at to spend the money. That’s the problem. Now if you live here and work here, 90 percent of the time you’re going to spend here and keep the money rotating around here,” Jackson says.

Jackson says he believes the current political climate is partly to blame for the insensitivity he says the contract workers showed to the city.

“That’s the problem with this new president in office, it’s blurring the lines. You know the common sense, the clear cut and dry. With that line being blurred I still look at it as hate is hate,” Jackson says.

Meanwhile, American Sewer Services says it was disgusted by the behavior of its former employees. And the company has released a statement thanking the city for allowing it to do business with Milwaukee.

Some city leaders want to hear more from the company. Aldermen have requested that American Sewer Services representatives appear before a Common Council committee on Thursday to address the problems.