Fort Wayne City Council news release:
Fort Wayne City Council to introduce legislation to bring collective bargaining opportunities back into city government
(November 5, 2020) – Councilman Glynn Hines, At-Large, the most senior member of the Fort Wayne City Council, was joined today by 3rd term, 5th District representative, Councilman Geoff Paddock, and 1st term, 6th District representative, Councilwoman Sharon Tucker to discuss a bill they are co-sponsoring with 1st term At-Large Councilwoman Michelle Chambers to bring collective bargaining opportunities back to city employees.
Collective bargaining rights were eliminated by City Council in 2014 after much debate, a mayoral veto, and Council override. The employees that lost the ability to collectively bargain are the people who have been deemed essential workers throughout the COVID crisis, including members of City Utilities, the Street Department, and many administrative workers and others throughout city government. At no point have they stopped working, they just no longer have the right to collectively bargain for their working conditions.
Said Councilman Hines, “I stood against the removal of collective bargaining rights in 2014 and I stand for the reinstatement of those rights today. The city has continued to work with police and fire unions over the last 6 years, and the other hard-working men and women laboring for the city deserve the same protections that we have provided our public safety employees. This bill is fiscally responsible by limiting the number of bargaining units, while still giving all employees a collective voice.”
Councilwoman Tucker added, “The right to collectively bargain has a long history in Fort Wayne and continues today with the three unions that are still active in city government who represent our public safety providers. We should put all employees on even footing and allow civil city and utility employees the same rights. I support the return of collective bargaining options.”
“We have drafted a bill that alleviates many of the concerns that have been addressed in the last six years about the fiscal responsibility of the city administration participating in collective bargaining. We have the potential to have a better system than we had before,” stated Councilman Paddock.
Highlights of the bill include a clear path for employees to determine their bargaining agent, a limit on the number of bargaining units allowed, limiting it to one for Fort Wayne Civil City and one for City Utilities therefore alleviating much duplication and cost to the city, maintaining seniority rights, and identifying a clear path for negotiations and mediations.
Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, co-sponsor of the bill, was unable to attend the event today, but provided the following statement, “Collective Bargaining should not be an option but a right for all public servants. I’m proud to stand side by side with my fellow council members in support of reinstating collective bargaining for all of City Of Fort Wayne employees. It’s been a journey getting here but I’m delighted this day has finally arrived and in the words of Representative John Lewis “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Collective Bargaining is necessary.”
Mayor Tom Henry was also unable to attend today, but issued a statement saying, “The positive momentum we continue to experience in the City of Fort Wayne could not have happened without the dedicated city employees we have who are committed to providing outstanding city services while being good fiscal stewards of taxpayer dollars. I applaud the work of Council members Chambers, Hines, Paddock, and Tucker to restore employees’ rights to participate in collective bargaining. Our staff are leaders in engagement, innovation and performance and deserve strong support systems to maintain the success our City has had due to all of their great work.”
This bill will be on the agenda for introduction by the Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday, November 10. The meeting begins at 5:30pm and introductions are done after all current business. Due to social distancing requirements, the meeting is open to essential participants only, but can be viewed on City TV or on Facebook at @FWCityCouncilMeetings.