Fort Wayne City Council Ends Collective Bargaining for Public Employees

May 28, 2014

Hundreds of union workers packed Citizen's Square Tuesday to protest measures that would remove collective bargaining for city employees.
Credit Sean Bueter / WBOI News

The Fort Wayne City Council voted Tuesday night to end collective bargaining for municipal employees who are not considered public safety workers.

There were three related measures up for consideration at Tuesday’s meeting, but only one was put up for a vote.

That bill removes the ability to collectively bargain from all city employees except police and firefighters. It passed along partisan lines while the other bills were permanently tabled.

Councilman John Crawford gives a presentation on collective bargaining at Citizen's Square Tuesday.
Credit Sean Bueter / WBOI News

Republican Councilmen John Crawford and Russ Jehl proposed the measures earlier this month.

Jehl says the vote is not about disrespecting city employees, but fiscal responsibility.

“We respect them and their voice is very important and I appreciate them speaking,” Jehl said. “Overall though, what my job is is to look out for the taxpayer, and I believe my vote did that tonight.”

The bill will not take effect right away, however.

Democratic Councilman John Shoaff voted with the Republican majority in order to use a parliamentary maneuver called reconsideration. It delays the implementation of the bill for two weeks and allows the council to vote again on the issue.

Shoaff says he hopes other councilmen will take a second look at their votes in the days ahead.

“I just like to think that when you’ve got a situation as we do, a city that’s working well – [workers who are] proud of their jobs, proud of what they do, proud of their city – I think this is not the place where you start monkeying around with things,” Shoaff said.

While most of the councilmen did not expect the vote count to change, some will use the extra time to gather more information on the issue.

Republican Councilman Tom Didier voted ‘yea” on the measure, but says he’s going to take the next two weeks to find out how his constituents really feel.

“I’ve made my vote, and that’s the way my vote is, but I’m going to go out and canvass the district and talk to the people,” Didier said. “If the people have a different idea of what I’m supposed to be doing, then that’s the way I should be looking at it.”

If the bill passes again on June 10th, Mayor Tom Henry is expected to veto it.

The council would then meet June 24th in an attempt to override the veto.