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In searching for means to improve efficiency and effectiveness in operations, the City of Elkhart, Indiana, Water and Wastewater Utilities capitalized on opportunities to consolidate its water and wastewater operations, despite the fact that separate bargaining units held contracts for each utility. The utility created a transition team, consisting of managers, supervisors, and union employees to negotiate an organizational restructuring agreement and implement the program. At the core of the plan was the cross-training of operators in skills of drinking water and wastewater operations. This allowed for a reduction in staff numbers, a higher skilled and more professional workforce, and higher levels of accountability while permitting each bargaining unit to maintain its autonomy. The process began in November 2002, with the resulting bargaining unit agreements signed in the spring of 2003, and followed immediately by implementation. Full implementation of the program is slated for October 2004. The utility received significant benefits from this process, realizing more than 100,000 in annual savings and a smaller, more technically sound work force.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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