Businesses boycotted over City Council budget vote

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s a controversial boycott in the city of Memphis.

Upset with the City’s new budget, the Memphis Police Association is asking people to boycott businesses associated with the Chamber of Commerce.

Why? Because the association says the chamber lobbied the City Council to reduce the health benefits of city workers.

Hundreds of businesses, large and small, are members of the Chamber of Commerce.

“I love Bar Louie,” said Mike Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association.

Despite it being one of his favorite restaurants, Williams says he won’t be going back anytime soon.

In fact, he says he’s not going to patron any business associated with the Chamber of Commerce, “The Chamber of Commerce was so active in trying to force the retirees out of the healthcare system.”

He posted the idea of a boycott on Facebook and now hundreds of people, upset with the City’s approved budget, say they are jumping on-board.

They’re angry the City Council voted to reduce benefits of retirees.

“This was one of the toughest decisions the City Council has ever made,” said Myron Lowery, who represents District 8 in the council.

Lowery voted in favor of the cuts.

He says it was either reducing benefits for City workers or raising Memphis property taxes by 23 cents, “The following year the property tax increase would be even higher.”

He says this boycott is a dangerous one, “That would not be productive for our city.”

Some businesses owners don’t understand it.

“I would probably tell them not to take an emotional stance and to sit back and think about it before they do it,” said Hugh Balthrop, owner of the Sweet Magnolia Ice Cream Company.

“This is just one thing we have in the works right now,” said Williams. “There will be more to come.”

Williams and hundreds of others who ‘liked’ the idea of the boycott, at least on Facebook, say they just want the City Council to reconsider the budget.

“Anything that was done can be undone,” said Williams.

Williams is asking businesses to support the cause, write letters to the chamber and the council and he says he would happily support their businesses again.

Lowery says this boycott won’t work because the council has already made its final vote.

 

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