Sources: 675 Memphis Police Officers call in “sick” with Blue Flu

MEMPHIS, Tenn, — Dozens of supporters for police officers and firefighters filled the room at Mayor A C Wharton’s news conference Tuesday. They’re not happy with the way the mayor and his staff are dealing with this pension problem ,and Tuesday was their chance to tell him to his face.

Mayor Wharton and city councilors keep telling the public they don’t want to make these cuts to health care premiums, and if anyone can think of a better way to save costs and help pay down the deficit, they are open to ideas.

WREG asked the mayor, “You folks are elected officials. Isn’t that your job to come up with these plans?”

The crowd broke out in applause, and Mayor Wharton answered questions about changes to city employee benefits.

For the first time in 48 hours, the mayor talked about the so-called Blue Flu and the hundreds of officers who are calling in sick to protest these cuts. The mayor said it isn’t a strike and it isn’t a crisis.

His explanation was, “I will not put a particular label on this but let’s put it this way it is not a desirable situation.”

Wharton admitted the city should have done something sooner to deal with the pension deficit, and was forced to raise health care premiums and cut some retiree benefits to fund the pension.

One of the protestors asked, “Do you understand how much they make on that? Have you looked at any of those numbers? Hey, that was a yes or no question.”

Protestors say the money is coming from the families who can least afford it, and they will do everything they can to stop these changes from taking affect.

As for public safety, the mayor said Police Director Toney Armstrong is doing some schedule finagling to make sure Memphis Police Officers can respond to any crime in the city.

Wharton explained, “We talk practically every hour. He is a man of integrity, he is not a politician. So he’s not going to shade anything with me.”

The mayor says the city’s safety has not been affected by the Blue flu yet, and they are considering bringing in other agencies, like the Tennessee National Guard, to help keep it that way.

13 comments

  • Paul Fischer

    If you call in sick for more than three days, no doctors note, then you lose your job. If this sounds harsh, that’s the policy at various non-government businesses in the mid south.

  • Christina

    They all have dr notes. And their sick policy is more strict than what I experience in the private sector. Many are taking risks that I would be afraid to take. Unlike many of us, they will not roll over and take whatever the city dishes out, especially when they’ve been paying most of it out of their own paychecks with very little contribution from the city for 8+ years. They also haven’t had a raise in 8+ years. Many are resigning to work elsewhere.

  • Mike Sisson

    So in Wharton’s description of Armstrong as a man of integrity and not a politician who will not shade anything with him, he therefore says that as a politician we can expect Wharton to shade everything he says to the public. I’m reminded of a Jack Sparrow quote about always being able to trust a dishonest man to be dishonest…

  • barbara taube

    In answer to the reporters question, yes, they did have other options, still have other options, but they don’t like them because they involve having to give up or postpone “their” pet projects. The mayor and city council seem to be virtually the only people that think the Raleigh Springs renovation (to the tune of $66 million) is a good idea. ACRE (Association of City Retired Employees) had a number of viable options but they refused to even listen to them, let alone consider them. They have been stealing from their employees for years and now that they are being held accountable for that, their number one solution is to steal more from them. And while they are telling us all how much they “hate” making these “difficult decisions”, remember Shea Flinn’s empathetic comment-‘If they don’t like it they can quit’. Remember Mayor Wharton receiving his new Cadillac within a week of this “difficult decision” to the tune of $1200 monthly. Remember Myron Lowery saying the council wouldn’t sacrifice a few thousand dollars by not having their annual portraits shot because ‘the public enjoys them so much’. Remember the city council as a whole wouldn’t give up their free meals. But…these ARE tough times….for everyone else!

  • IwishUwould

    This is not just about insurance going up people, Where is the money that these city employee’s put into the pension fund and do they get their money back. The City employee’s have had money taking out of their checks to go toward the pension fund, the city did not put in the little over 6% they where suppose to and now the money is not there. My question is where is the money’s that the City employee’s paid into the fund. AC, the CFO and CAO needs to be investigated, someone has been stealing. This is why the money is not there….

  • jean m griffin

    It was said combining city and county schools would SAVE THE CITY MONEY where is it??? I find it most disgusting what they have done to our POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS jmg

  • william

    I don’t feel sorry for them there lucky to even have insurance and a job feel for the unemployed

    • Get Informed

      Your in luck William. If you have the will and the courage and can pass a background check and have worked hard in the form of having military experience and or attending college, and are willing to complete a 21 week academy with firearm proficiency and law testing as well as physical fitness training almost everyday, they will be hiring soon and you too can be “lucky”. Both fire and police departments are losing people hand over fist every week to better paying departments. They will be forced to hire a lot soon on both departments and they, per a city employee at the last budget meeting, are now taking waivers for crimes committed that in the past would have instantly disqualified one from applying. They may even drop the standards again to make it easier for the masses to apply. Quality is becoming less and less a factor. You know, the exact opposite of how successful businesses do it. The only downside is you have to risk your life a lot for people you don’t and you most likely won’t get any holidays off for many years. You will likely not see your family very much either. You may have to run into a burning building everyone else is running out of (because that is the sensible thing to do). You may have to fight one on one with a guy far larger than you in an alley while he tries to unholster your gun and if you don’t win, well it’s game over. You may get sued a lot. You will dream about things you have seen that will make you not sleep the rest of the night and you will likely be largely unappreciated by the public. Your life expectancy will statistically drop to 57 to 62 depending which study you believe. Your divorce chances are markedly increased and your own city might even promise you benefits for 30 years and then not pay them when you finally retire, forcing you to lose your car and your home. and all the while you will not get social security. Then to top it all off, the public and policitians will say you are “whining” because your job is no different and deserves nothing better than any typical store clerk. After October I bet there will be a lot of vacancies.

  • Lied too

    William it breaks all our hearts you don’t feel sorry for us! We are not “lucky” we have jobs. All of us worked hard for these jobs and chose this city with it’s promised pension plan and benefits. I have a four year college degree and five years of military service. I chose this city because I was raised here and my family lives here, but don’t worry William I am using my vacation to test for other departments who are aggressively recruiting us. You can have my job! It’s a win for both of us William.

  • Patricia McCabe

    Hey Lied Too….as a Detroit Police Retiree I feel awful for you! They already stole our healthcare, COLA, etc. I applaud the unity regarding the Blu Flu….Detroit Officers need to get together and display the unity of the Memphis P.D. Praying for all of you!!! PattyMac

  • The End Is Near Hail Al Mosul

    Nobody cares about any of this. “f”-uck em all. From the bottom to the top. Politicians and cops they are all crooked. From robbing dope boys to harassing the homeless vets of this city. They all need to burn in h-e-l-l.

  • Joe Bledsoe

    Be glad it wasn’t more, They have no intent to cause anyone any harm. They are a great group of folks otherwise they wouldn’t be Police and Firemen to begin with. Their hand was forced to do so by the incompetent actions of the elected officials. Millions of dollars wasted on boondoggle projects driven by political egos just to be re-elected and too scared to even attempt to raise taxes to pay their existing bills. 8th grade economics, pay your bills first and then go to the movies if you can, You don’t go out to the movies and then try to pay the rent do you. Mismanagement of pension funds, mismanagement of the healthcare funding needs of the employees. But yet keep on spending monies in the wrong places.

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