Around the Country, Unions Battle City Governments

Akito Yoshikane

With the concessions deadline having passed for officials of Chicago’s Teamsters Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Mayor Richard M. Daley has laid off more than 400 city employees, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday. Truck drivers for the Teamsters Union account for 141 of the layoffs, while the rest come from administration and city libraries.

Both unions have yet to respond to the official layoff announcement, but AFSCME prepared a statement yesterday in anticipation. Chicago​ist​.com posted the full statement from AFSCME, an excerpt from which is below:

Unfortunately, it appears that the Daley Administration will not accept AFSCMEs alternative approach which would achieve the same savings as the scheduled layoffs. Instead, we expect Mayor Daley will choose to put…dedicated city employees out of work. The Mayor’s decision will cause great hardship for these workers and their families, and will further reduce city services for residents who rely on them, especially in the police department, the libraries and the health clinics where most of the Mayor’s layoffs will occur.

Chicago is hardly the only city where economic hardships and budget deficits have led to battles between unions and city government.

In Tampa, Fla., the city government is in a stalemate with unions representing police officers (Tampa Police Benevolent Assoc.), firefighters (Tampa Fire Fighters No. 754) and members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (Local 1464).

The main issue of contention is that of police pay raises, which city human resources director Kimberly Crum said would cost the city $12 million, enough to fund more than 200 jobs, according to a Tampa Bay Business Journal report.

The city, which anticipates a $52 million deficit in the coming fiscal year according to the report, has already laid off 498 city employees, or about 10 percent of its staff. Negotiations with the unions will resume July 27.

Unions in Detroit are criticizing a proposal from mayor Dave Bing to impose a 10 percent pay cut for city employees, achieved through 26 furlough days, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press. Leamon Wilson and John Riehl, of Detroit’s AFSCME Local 207, have criticized the plan, and Wilson added he was told by Bing that he wasn’t interested in the pay cut, according to the report.

AFSCME has yet to take action with respect to the proposal.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Dayton, Ohio has been meeting with city officials to discuss the city government’s proposed concessions of either laying off 11 officers or having the union take no pay raise and a four-day furlough, WHIO TV in Dayton reports.

At one of the Dayton meetings, a fact-finder proposed a 1 percent pay raise without furlough, terms the union accepted but city leaders rejected. FOP President Randy Beane said in the article that members will take money from their own paychecks to help laid-off employees. With both parties at a stalemate, a conciliator has been brought in to draw up a resolution.

And there are plenty of other examples all over the country, and not just in large metros like Chicago and Detroit. If you’re a union member or know union members currently in a struggle with city government, leave a comment here and start the discussion.

Akito Yoshikane is a freelance writer based in Chicago.
Brandon Johnson
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