Union Workers Hold Collective Bargaining Picnic

By BROOKE WELCH | bwelch@wfft.com

Published 06/22 2014 07:30PM

Updated 06/23 2014 10:06AM

On Saturday a group of union workers organized a free picnic at Friemann Square. You might remember last week we reported on an ad for the picnic in the Journal Gazette, claiming that city leaders are trying to privatize city utilities. The mayor's office has said in a statement that there is no truth to those claims.

The Fort Wayne City Council voted to end collective bargaining for six unions, or about 1300 city employees. Mayor Tom Henry vetoed that decision, and now the council will vote on Tuesday to override Mayor Henry's veto. Saturday's picnic was a last effort by the unions to draw attention to the issue, and to encourage those on their side to contact city councilman.

Crew Leader Foreman at Water Maintenance and Service John Bloom has worked 31 years, and says he's worried about his benefits.  "We work a lot of hours in the wintertime, and we got things in there containing the work conditions, rest time...which we use as a safety time. Things like that."

Councilman Geoff Paddock says he's had a lot of people ask him why the council would vote against a system that's been in place for years. A system that he voted for. "Collective bargaining system that has worked so incredibly well over the last forty years, and i think added a lot of dignity to the workfoce and a lot of productivity to our workforce."

One of the items in the Journal Gazette ad, mentioned privatizing utilities. Republican Councilman John Crawford wants to set the record straight, "Privatizing utilities was never mentioned at anytime from anyone. There is absolutely no truth to that rumor. I sincerely believe that this will make managing the city more flexible and we can cut costs for taxpayers. This is the only reason we are doing this."

Councilman Paddock disagrees about the benefit to taxpayers.  "We've really never seen any statistics or hard data that shows it's not working. We haven't seen any statistics or hard data that shows tax payers will save money."

Right now it appears the party lines are clearly drawn on this matter. City council will reconvene on June 24th. and they need a six vote majority to override the mayor's veto.

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