Union members prepare for a battle with the city

Union members from across Memphis are rallying together. They're joining forces now in anticipation of a fight with city hall.

Behind closed doors of an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' office, Memphis union leaders discussed forming a unified front.

Union members fear falling victim to Mayor Willie Herenton's plan to recoup a $26 million budget shortfall.

"There must be concession on the the part of the unions that represent various employee groups," said Herenton earlier this year.

"Well, there were concerns when the Mayor said he was going to balance the budget by cutting out benefits," said Tommy Turner, of the Memphis Police Association.

The Memphis Police Association is one of more than a dozen local unions prepared to forego individual goals to set priorities that represent the entire union workforce. They're acting on the adage there is strength in numbers.

"When you start talking about balancing the budget on the backs of people who had nothing to do with the money coming up short, naturally that's a concern to everybody," said Rick Thompson of the IBEW.

Thompson just saw MLGW workers through a tough round of contract negotiations. He organized the meeting to assist other city agencies whose contracts expire July 1st.

"With everything else going up, light gas and water rates are up, groceries are up, property taxes are up. We're in no position to give anything up," said Turner.

Veteran public servants say they've never gone to the table with so much to lose. Herenton has said he plans to meet with local union reps some time in February.