Unions not happy with plan for 1.5 percent bonus - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Unions not happy with plan for 1.5 percent bonus

City unions are willing to take a bonus, but leaders say that doesn't make up for the pay cuts union members have already taken. City unions are willing to take a bonus, but leaders say that doesn't make up for the pay cuts union members have already taken.

(WMC-TV) - The police and fire unions say no one would turn down a 1.5 percent bonus, but the groups also say the bonus won't stop their lawsuit demanding the city restore employees' 4.6 percent pay cut.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton will ask the city council to give city employees a bonus Tuesday.

"It'll be 1.5 percent, a minimum of $600," said Wharton.

But after the city cut salaries 4.6 percent starting in August, Memphis Police Association Vice President Michael Williams equates the gesture with being the victim of a robbery.

"An individual robs you, but he's a nice robber so he wants to give you a portion of your money back so you won't tell or complain," said Michael Williams, of the Memphis Police Association.

"If he wants to do something that's really beneficial, take that 1.5 and put it back in the salaries that he took from us," said Larry Anthony, vice president of the Memphis Fire Association.

Anthony said the cuts run deeper than people know.

"When he took the 4.6 percent from us, it affects our pension, it affects our overtime, it affects everything," said Anthony. "It's not just a 4.6 percent reduction. It equates to more than that."

"Whatever contracts they established with new hires, we're all for it," said Williams. "But we want to maintain what the employees who already signed contracts when they came onto this job, what they already have."

The union leaders say the city has shown it's not as strapped as officials say because corporations have been offered millions of dollars in incentives to either move to the city or stay here.

"We're not against that," said Williams. "We're just saying stop picking and choosing what you want to spend taxpayer money (on)."

"I know we have to have businesses here," said Anthony. "We have to bring them in, but there are sometimes you have to draw the line, just like he's drawn the line with us and said, ‘This is what you're going to get.'"

If approved, employees would get the mayor's bonus December 22.

Union leaders say they're trying to work with the city. They propose that members employed by the city less than a decade contribute an extra half percent of their salaries to the pension fund.

Council chambers are expected to be packed during the discussion Tuesday.

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