The City of Memphis is acting in bad faith toward its workers. This spring, the hard-working people who keep our City running agreed during union negotiations to go a third straight year without any pay raises. They also agreed to pay increased health care costs themselves of up to 20 percent. Mayor AC Wharton’s administration made no mention of pay cuts during these negotiations.
Then in June, the Memphis City Council passed a budget that included a 4.6 percent pay cut for all workers who are not in management positions. These cuts affect even the lowest paid workers, who already struggle to survive on their wages. More than 100 workers were laid off, and many other workers were offered forced early retirement.
By instituting these pay cuts without negotiating with workers’ unions, Mayor Wharton and the City Council are violating a City ordinance which lays out a clear process for negotiation. City officials claim they are in a fiscal emergency, yet they have refused to follow the local ordinance that requires them to reveal their books to workers’ unions to show whether a true emergency exists. Because of this violation of the law, a dozen unions representing City workers have filed suit against the City.
The citizens of Memphis must call on our elected officials to act in good faith toward its workers and abide by the agreements they negotiated with workers this spring.
Workers have already sacrificed by agreeing to pay freezes for three straight years and absorbing the most recent increase in health care premiums. No mention of pay cuts was made in the City’s negotiations with them this spring.
Furthermore, I’m concerned that the City may be violating its promise to pay all of its workers a living wage of at least $10 an hour for workers who receive benefits, and $12 an hour for workers who do not receive benefits.
More than 40 years since the historic City of Memphis sanitation strike, it seems our City government is still not willing to bargain in good faith with its workers. I call on you to take action to immediately rescind these pay cuts and to abide by the agreements you have already made with workers.