Just weeks after the Fort Wayne City Council passed legislation ending collective bargaining for city employees, it has taken the assault on workers rights further by passing a new law which would make union membership for all public safety employees optional. This local “Right-to-Work” law goes further than the state’s bill which exempted policemen and firefighters.
As with the collective bargaining attack, Mayor Tom Henry has announced he will veto the bill. But the council has the votes to override the veto just as they did last month on the question of bargaining rights.
The man who introduced the bill, Republican Mitch Harper, spewed canned anti-union rhetoric, saying, “without the requirement to join a union employment will be based solely on the quality of work and professionalism.” .
In a press conference last Friday, Mayor Henry said:
“Once again, City Council has presented an ordinance that I had to veto because of the disrespect it shows the great employees of our city — this time, the public safety officers,”
“The last time I vetoed an ordinance, the voices of our non-public safety employees obviously fell on deaf ears. I openly worked with the firefighters’ union prior to the recent passage of their contract to eliminate the membership requirement because that’s what they requested. Had the police unions asked for this, I would have respected their wishes and could have signed a letter of agreement with them as well.
“To my knowledge, no council member ever talked with the police unions . . . No warning was given. I truly believe that is bad governing. This ordinance alienates those who put their lives on the line to keep all of us safe.”
Jeremy Bush, President of the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters union, expects firefighters to continue to pay union dues even it they are not mandatory. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Sofia Rosales-Scatena, however, is more upse and less confident.
“This is not about tax dollars,” she told The News-Sentinel. “If you’re young and don’t have a lot of possessions, you may think about saving as much money as you can (by not paying dues).”
A vote by council to override the veto could come as early as this week.