Fort Wayne council ends most city union bargaining

By The Associated Press

FORT WAYNE — The Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday voted along party lines to override the mayor’s veto of a measure that prohibits collective bargaining for all city employees except police officers and firefighters.

The measure ends contract negotiations with six other unions representing workers in Indiana’s second-largest city. City officials have said the ordinance would affect about 575 workers, while nearly 800 public safety employees would remain covered by union contracts.

All six Republicans on the council voted for the override of Democratic Mayor Tom Henry’s veto, with three Democrats voting against it. Six votes were needed.

Henry issued a statement shortly after the vote, calling the action “disappointing and unnecessary.”

Henry has maintained the action isn’t needed because the city’s budget is balanced and it has a cash reserve, while Republicans on the council have said the measure will give the city more flexibility and save money.

Councilman John Crawford, a Republican who sponsored the ordinance, apologized for any stress the issue has caused for employees, the News-Sentinel reported. He said he will work to make the new system “work as well as possible for the employees and citizens of Fort Wayne.”

“I’m absolutely shocked,” Lloyd Osborne, who represents Local 399, the International Union of Operating Engineers, told WANE-TV. “There’s no plan put in place for what happens tomorrow morning.”

NAACP member Marsha Brooks, who held a sign during the meeting that said union supporters would “remember in November,” told the News-Sentinel that the battlefield will now shift from the council chamber to the ballot box.

“It’s our last alternative,” she said.

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