MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis Police Association's contract is set to expire this summer, and Union representatives walked out of the first meeting with City Administrators on Friday.
After the Memphis Police and Fire strike in 1978, voters put in place an ordinance that would prevent City employees from striking, with the stipulation that City Administrators negotiate an equitable contract. The MPA President, Mike Williams, says the City is not negotiating.
Memphis resident Jackie Orr works in cosmetics. Her job may be a world away from law enforcement but, she says pay cuts and benefit reductions are happening in job markets across the U.S. "Same thing's happened to me... I do think that's the norm," she says.
It may be "the norm," but Williams says the city needs to allow room for negotiations, since the current police union contract expires this summer. "We gave up our right to strike so we could actually negotiate." Williams says, "The City is saying they don't want to negotiate."
If they can't reach an agreement, that means no contract. "That's where the no strike clause is," William's explains, "They're contending that the no strike ordinance is no good. So we'll just have to deal with that."
The City's Administrator George Little was in the meeting on Friday, and he says, "It's far too early for anyone to panic or get up in arms. We stated our position and the unions have made theirs known. I just see it as an extension of the process."
In an internal email obtained by abc24.com, Williams warns officers to "prepare for the fight of your lives." After ten shootings over the weekend, he says crime is up, the number of cops is down, pay is down, morale is down, and he wants the city to put its money where its mouth is. Williams questions, "10 shootings, 10 shootings, are you serious about fighting crime, or are you just blowing smoke?"
Little says discussions are far from over with MPA, he believes the city and the union will reach a fair agreement. They have not set a date for their next meeting.