Despite American Water collecting net profits of $268 million during 2010 on revenues of $2.7 billion, the water rate hikes the water rate hikes currently being demanded by the company before state regulators in the U.S. include 13% in Pennsylvania, 16% in Iowa, 19% in New York, 23% in Missouri, 35% in California, and a staggering 81% increase in Arizona.
The Utility Workers Union of America has been active in raising concerns about American Water, including ongoing protests against unfair bargaining tactics by management and its demands to impose major concessions on hourly employees during negotiations for a new national agreement. The Union is also combating routine demands by American Water during local union negotiations that would eliminate any semblance of job security for hourly workers, such as the unlimited outsourcing of union members’ jobs.
In June, the UWUA successfully mobilized citizens in Rialto, California to convince the City Council to reject a proposed 30-year lease of the city’s water and wastewater system to American Water. More than 300 Rialto citizens packed the City Council chambers and two overflow rooms to speak out against the deal, which would have increased water rates in the city by more than 84 percent in only two years. The defeated proposal also would have required the city to pay American Water more than $23 million every year in service fees and capital charges.
Today, Mark Calzavara and Maryam Adrangi of the Council of Canadians, working in solidarity with the UWUA, leafleted Edward Vallejo, American Water’s vice-president of investor relations, who was speaking at a ‘World MoneyShow’ conference in Toronto. The union wants to ensure that wherever an American Water executive speaks that they are confronted with the truth of their corporate practices.
The leaflet given to Vallejo and others attending the conference highlighted that, “On June 27, 2011, American Water Canada pleaded guilty to violating the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to ensure that water treatment equipment was operational. The Ontario Court of Justice fined the company $18,750, including a 25% victim fine surcharge.”