In a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council rejected the 2017-18 collective bargaining agreement presented by the refusing to allow the contract to be introduced at all.
It was an extension of an issue brought forward in December by former Councilman Marty Bender, an officer with the Fort Wayne Police Department, who wanted to prohibit the city of Fort Wayne from compensating certain city employees for serving as union officials. Bender’s ordinance focused on the heads of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association and the city’s firefighter union and would end union time banks, which allow union members to perform union duties during work hours without loss of pay.
The proposal was ultimately tabled.
On Tuesday, Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, said officials with the union expressed interest in January in working with the council on a compromise, promising to provide Crawford with relevant data. That data and that compromise never came, Crawford said.
“We tabled it at their request so that they could work out some compromise in the collective bargaining contracts that were coming this year,” Crawford said. “The firefighters did work out some compromise, the PBA put it in just like it was last year with no change whatsoever. We gave them specific instructions that was not going to be passed, so there was no point in discussing it until that was worked out.”
A memorandum of understanding had been drafted by the union to address concerns raised by the council by Tuesday’s meeting, but Crawford said the amendment it proposed was too little, too late.
“We started talking about that last January, we’ve had all this time,” Crawford said. “And at the eleventh hour to put something (forward) that nobody’s seen, that’s just not going to fly.”
Council President Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association essentially reneged on a “gentleman’s agreement” to compromise on the contract.
“I think it’s clear that what we have in front of us is an unacceptable collective bargaining agreement, if we turn it down there’s already a memorandum of understanding in place and it can be reintroduced in its proper format in two weeks,” Jehl said.
Jehl said he made it clear during meetings with PBA officials that he would not support another collective bargaining agreement unless a compromise was reached.
Councilman Tom Didier, R-3rd, did not support Bender’s ordinance last year but voted against introducing the contract on Tuesday, using the firefighters union as an example. “I think you look at what the fire department did, they did take the time and the initiative,” Didier said.
Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, was the only councilman to support introducing the collective bargaining contract. Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, and Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, were absent Tuesday.
Crawford said should Mayor Tom Henry’s administration and the union revisit the issue and work out a compromise, the contract could be reintroduced in two weeks on Oct. 25.