Fort Wayne City Council Upholds Right-to-Work Ordinance

Jul 23, 2014

A right-to-work ordinance for Fort Wayne’s police officers and firefighters survived a mayoral veto. The vote was made at Tuesday's City Council meeting. 

The ordinance says that public safety workers can’t lose their jobs if they don’t want to pay union dues. It was introduced by Republican councilman Mitch Harper.

Harper says it’s a matter of principle – that it’s not taking away union’s rights, but giving freedom of choice to the employee.

“To be for something otherwise" says Harper,  "is to say it’s proper for  government to enforce a private labor organization membership by taking away the right to someone’s livelihood.”

But the President of the police union strongly disagrees.  Sofia Rosales-Scatena addressed the council before the vote. She stressed that compulsory union membership is a matter of safety for both the officers and the public, since unions provide free legal services for officers involved in shootings.

Rosales-Scatena says the council’s procedure is causing her and her organization to lose their voices.  

“Given time we probably could have come to some negotiated item" says Rosales-Scatena. "I think that council has been very readily using that ordinance procedure, they’ve been readily using ordinance to circumvent contract and that’s where we have issue.”

Rosales-Scatena says she was close to finalizing contracts with the city, but they must now be rewritten. The 6-3 vote to overturn the veto was along party lines.