Collective bargaining vote stands, bill goes to Fort Wayne mayor

(WANE Photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne City Council has voted down a motion to reconsider a vote taken two weeks ago that passed an ordinance to end collective bargaining for some city employees. The ordinance that passed 7 to 2 on May 27 would affect city employees who are not public safety workers.

On May 27, John Shoaff (D, At-Large) voted with the majority to remove collective bargaining rights, but only so he could invoke a parliamentary procedure to reconsider the vote on June 10. This means the bill was essentially on hold until the council’s regular meeting on June 10. During that meeting, five council members voted to not reconsider the first vote and three voted to reconsider it. Councilman John Crawford was not at the meeting.

“I’m very disappointed that no one would take us up on the reconsideration,” said Councilman Glynn Hines, one of the three Democrats against repealing collective bargaining. “All we’re asking for is more time. You can see tonight that all issues that come up that need more clarity take more time. This issue is much bigger than a sidewalk, street or sewer. It’s people and their lives, and I think we should have taken more time.”

Councilman Russ Jehl, one of the two authors of the ordinance, was pleased to see it still passed.

“I’m satified with how the vote went tonight and the results,” Jehl said. “The sooner we can somehow put this decision to rest, one way or the other, the sooner we can move forward and begin healing again as a city.”

The ordinance now goes to Mayor Tom Henry for his signature. Henry has previously said he would veto any bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from city workers.

“I plan on vetoing it with signature within the next few days,” Henry said. “I’ve said from the very beginning that the pieces of legislation that were introduced to council, to me, took away the voice of city employees. I could not support that, if nothing else, it was a slap in the face to our staff members who worked so hard to make Fort Wayne the city that it is. I would veto any legislation that took away that dignity.”

If the mayor vetoes the ordinance, the council needs six votes to override his veto. A vote to do that would take place June 24.

Late Tuesday night, Mayor Tom Henry released this statement:

Tonight’s vote by a majority of City Council members to end collective bargaining for non-public safety union employees is a step backward for our community. It’s a divisive approach that sends the wrong message, and I will veto the ordinance that was passed this evening.

We’re experiencing unprecedented momentum in the City of Fort Wayne by working together. Through innovative and engaging partnerships, we’ve built a nationally-recognized, affordable, and high-performing city government. Now is not the time to risk the progress we’re making in our community by rushing through an ordinance that takes away the rights of our award-winning city employees. We win the future by making smart choices, not by jeopardizing the formula for success and demoralizing our city team.

I want to thank Councilmen Hines, Paddock, and Shoaff for opposing the collective bargaining ordinance. They’re to be commended for being advocates for employees, residents, and businesses.

We will work through this challenge, one that was unnecessary and not in the best interest of our city. I will continue to work with City Council though and all city employees to provide high quality services to create a prosperous city of opportunity.

Mayor Henry said he has only vetoed one piece of legislation before. He does not remember what the bill pertained to, but did remember that it came during his first term in office. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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