(Memphis) – The Memphis Police Union’s latest slam at City Hall is a commercial urging citizens to let city leaders know they need to get behind those who serve and protect.
“We want the citizens to tell city hall, their councilman and Mayor you need to focus on public safety, make sure we have enough officers on the streets,” says Memphis Police Union President Mike Williams. He says contract negotiations just got started and the union had enough and walked out.
“I think the city wants to come to the table and dictate to employees what they are going to do. That’s a non-starter for us,” says Williams.
He says MPA wanted to discuss details like recruitment and overtime, but the city had its own set agenda.
“The last time I checked in a negotiation you have to discuss issues,” says Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little. He is leading some of the contract talks and says a lot of what can be discussed is dictated by a lawsuit the union has against the city over pay cuts.
“We actually reached back out and offered some different options so hopefully we can get back on one accord just about how we are going to talk with each other. But we will talk and do so in a fair and respectful way,” says Little.
It’s just the latest clash between police and city hall from over how police do their jobs to how much funding the city puts back into services.
But city leaders say in actuality funding for public safety has increased and continues to be a top priority.
The police union isn’t sold and isn’t giving up.
“We are gonna fight. Bottom line, we are not gonna go down without a fight,” says Williams.
City officials say the police union is the only union that has voiced problems with the negotiations process and taken to the airwaves.
Some agreement must be reached by April, the deadline for a budget to be submitted to City Council.