The city of Fairfield, CA has had difficulty in hiring and keeping nurses to provide medical service for jail inmates. In fact, they had a shortfall of 15 nursing positions, calling into question the effectivness of the medical services being offered. So they turned to the private sector and hired a private contractor to provide the service. The local union official had this to say: “We were very upset by it,” said Art Grubel, director of the Service Employees International Union Local 1280. Contracting out government services “cuts into the heart of what unions are all about.” I wonder what that is — providing good quality public services or protecting public employees from competition?
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.