Most of us have seen recent articles in the local newspapers and broadcasts on the local news stations about ordinances to end collective bargaining for all City workers except police and firefighters. I believe it is important for citizens to attend the City Council meetings so that they can stay abreast of what is being addressed, and I believe it is important that we share our views on the topics being discussed. When I attended the May 20, 2014 City Council Meeting, I heard numerous City employees speak passionately about the possibility of losing collective bargaining. Some of the meetings can be very enlightening. I urge Fort Wayne residents to take time and attend some of the City Council meetings.
Anyone trying to determine if collective bargaining should be repealed should have a good understanding of what collective bargaining is. I found the following definition in Wikipedia: "Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and a group of employees aimed at reaching agreements to regulate working conditions. The interests of the employees are commonly presented by representatives of a trade union to which the employees belong. The collective agreements reached by these negotiations usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms, and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs."
Some believe that collective bargaining promotes fairness in policies and personnel decisions; it's a matter of making sure employees are treated fairly and well; employers' and employees' rights are protected; public workers are economical and provide a higher quality of service than private company employees who perform the same type of job.
Some believe that public employees receive more in wages and benefits than non-union workers, and this increases costs for the employer. They argue that ending collective bargaining will save large sums of money.
Hopefully the decisions made on collective bargaining will be based on facts, and not on distorted information. Many of our City employees put their lives on the line while working. My brother worked for the City of Fort Wayne Water Department. One day while he was working, an area caved in on him. He was trapped in the hole for quite a while. He survived, but had lasting effects from it. Numerous people can tell stories like this about other City workers. I want to support these workers and say, "Thank You for your dedication and for a job well done."
I previously worked as an employee with the City of Fort Wayne. I enjoyed my time working as a Relocation Officer and while working in the Sewer Department. I felt like I was providing needed services to the public, and I was content with my pay and health benefits. I believe that many of the things I enjoyed while working for the City were a result of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining has played a huge role in improving pay and working conditions for American employees. Even though working conditions seem to improve as time goes on, I, like many of the current City employees, feel that there continues to be a need for collective bargaining.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee