Unions looking for support from Memphis area ministers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The police union spoke before the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association Tuesday asking for their help.

The city is planning to cut healthcare benefits for employees to help pay off pension debts, but a public endorsement from the MBMA may help rally support to get a half-cent sales tax plan on the ballot.

The Afro-American Police Association presented a list of ideas at Tuesday’s meeting. It includes the half-cent sales tax, building an amusement park on Mud Island, and even borrowing money from MLGW. They say it’s going to take more than one of these ideas to solve the city’s problems.

Pastor Dwight Montgomery with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference presented the idea of supporting the half-cent sales tax.

He said, “I believe in this organization every pastor has somebody who is either retired or present city employee.”

Montgomery hopes the MBMA will vote to officially endorse a half cent sales tax.

“I told them something they already know. This is affecting our city, and this is an embarrassing situation,” he said.

Mayor A C Wharton says he stands behind these cuts because it puts the city on path toward covering the current pension shortfall, but wouldn’t oppose a vote on the half-cent sales tax. He just won’t put his name on it either.

Pastor Montgomery added, “It is not the only solution, but it is a step in the right direction.”

He says this isn’t about putting politics in the pulpit, but rather protecting the people. The pastor is putting the SCLC behind it because he says this organization was founded by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King to protect workers, and he hopes the MBMA will do the same.

The official endorsement vote will be held next Tuesday.

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