Union members protest potential repeal of impasse ordinance

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Dozens of union members spent Saturday staked out in order to protect their rights. It's all setting up for a potential showdown Tuesday at Memphis City Hall.

Demonstrators turned Poplar and Highland into a live message board, holding signs with messages to passing cars explaining that they aren't happy with changes the city wants to implement. 
"Simple representation done fairly. That's what this all boils down to," said Moszell LaGrone with Local 369.
Memphis City Council could repeal the impasse ordinance Tuesday.
The decades-old rule sends contract impasses to a committee who essentially settles the dispute, then sends their recommendation to the city council for a vote. If the impasse ordinance is repealed, Mayor Jim Strickland would settle the impasse instead. That is an option that some find unfair.
"I don't feel like that should be in the hands of our executives we got now," LaGrone said.
"To take away that voice would be catastrophic. We don't want our voice taken away," said Matt Cunningham, Lead Negotiator for Memphis Police Association.
The city's 13 unions have amplified their voices in recent days, holding a news conference Friday in front of city hall, then the Saturday protest.
"Unions give individual workers a collective voice," Wendi Coombs said.
Coombs isn't a city worker. She's not married to one either. She's president of her neighborhood watch; she's also a concerned citizen.
She said she's worried about crime in Memphis, as well as what appears to be an attempt to silence unions.
"We need the union as a voice for the firefighters, the police, the electrical workers," she said.

Memphis City Councilmember Kemp Conrad proposed the repeal of the ordinance. He said Friday the city is making "great headway" amending the current impasse ordinance.
Union leaders said they are open to compromise.

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