The trend towards dumping public unions continues to escalate in cities across the country. Latest on the list is from Michigan where a board votes to outsource parking operations at Grand Rapids airport

Airport leaders unanimously selected a private firm to take over parking operations at Gerald R. Ford International Airport today, despite impassioned pleas by employees who will now have to reapply for their jobs and likely face pay and benefit cuts.

The vote to select Chicago-based Standard Parking to manage parking came after several parking employees that are now employed by Kent County spoke during the public comment period. The group questioned the fairness of the process and asked the board to delay the vote and give them more time to negotiate to keep their current jobs.

Finance Director Brian Picardat and airport leaders said the decision was difficult and based on a projected savings of $1.5 million over five years, even after a wage concession offered by current parking employees was factored in.

In an article just prior to the decision, the Grand Rapids Press noted …

Parking agents who do maintenance and assist customers can make between $14 to $19 an hour, not including tips. Those jobs also come with nearly a 33 percent medical and fringe benefit package.

Airport Director Jim Koslosky said the decision was tough because union leaders offered wage concessions that would have reduced the hourly pay rate to around $13 an hour, saving about $135,000 a year. But, even factoring in the wage concessions, airport staff determined that going with the private company would still result in a net savings of $1.5 million over five years. Without the wage concessions, the switch would save $1.9 million over five years.

“Standard Parking already operates the airport’s express shuttle lot and valet parking services, Koslosky said. The firm beat out five other companies that bid on the contract, including Grand Rapids-based Ellis Parking.

The union members are complaining about fairness.

What can possibly be more fair to everyone than putting the contract out to bid to 5 competing firms and taking the best offer?

What’s 100% fair is to watch out for taxpayers, not unions.

Expect outsourcing to intensify. It will be a major theme in 2011, and a very welcome them at that. Taxpayers have simply had enough.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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