Debate over health care benefits for officers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Debate over health care benefits for officers

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

The Memphis Police Association and the City of Memphis are battling over health care benefits.

According to union leaders, the city is using union-breaking tactics in this bizarre benefits debate.

The city says they're open for negotiations.

Memphians are anxious over the tensions between city hall and the police union. Some want officers to feel secure.

"Like they're being appreciated and that their job is important and they're going to be taken care of," said Memphian Joey McGoff.

Officers say the city is not negotiating in good faith, and they want their benefits restored.

"Since 2010, we have had an increase in our health care premiums by 41 percent," said MPA Negotiations Chairman Marcus Tucker.

However, the city said they can't afford to fund the pension and restore benefits.

"The numbers are the numbers. We've got a pie, the pie is only so big," said Memphis City Chief Administrative Officer George Little. "We can grow the pie as this administration has been committed to, or we could raise taxes."

For the first time in Memphis history, negotiations are being put in writing instead of face-to-face meetings. The union is upset since the city changed the procedures.

"We've done it in writing so we can keep the confusion down," said Little.

The two opposing sides held their first face-to-face meeting in months on Thursday.

"It was very unproductive," said Tucker.

The union is moving forward with rally plans from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the corner of Poplar Avenue and Highland Street. It is getting difficult for officers to provide for their families.

"We want the citizens of Memphis to know the City of Memphis is not playing fair," said Tucker.

If the sides can't come to a decision, a deadlock will be declared, which means the City Council would have to step in to settle the labor dispute.

The city said that might be the best forum for the type of changes the union wants.

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