MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com)–The flu that can’t be avoided by a shot could hit Memphis again.
The city’s Chief Administrative Officer George Little says there’s nothing to worry about. And even though most of the negotiations have been on paper, and not face to face, everything is legit and will work out.
But others don’t feel that way.
For both the Memphis Firefighters Association and the Memphis Police Association, morale is at rock bottom. And it all started years ago when salaries were cut by 4.6%.
“A lot of these guys have reached a breaking point. When you take 4.6 from them, you go up on their pensions, you put retirees out of health, you increase their insurance by 24% recently,” explained Memphis Police Association president Mike Williams.
The police and firefighters of Memphis showed folks how they felt about cuts last summer. The blue flu, the red rash, hundreds of firefighters and cops calling in sick and staying off the job.
Williams tried to stop them last year, and he’s worried about what could happen.
“From this seat right here you can’t control what individuals do in the field. We can say, hey, look this is not good. We’re getting public support, please hold on. How long do you want these guys to hold on,” said Williams.
Williams is running for mayor.
So is city councilman Jim Strickland who blames bad morale on the Wharton administration’s refusal to have face to face contract negotiations until this week.
“Otherwise, it’s not an open process, and that builds distrust. And I think that’s what’s going on between the mayor and these employees unions, there’s distrust,” said Strickland.
Police contract negotiators will meet next week, even though the city did not schedule more meetings.
You can bet your milk money on one thing, city council members will end up getting involved.