People nationwide boycott city budget and Chamber of Commerce

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- People all across the country are boycotting the Memphis Chamber of Commerce.

The Memphis Police Association started the protest after the city council cut employee and retiree health benefits instead of raising property taxes.

Quite a few businesses are hanging signs on their front doors, including auto repair shops, restaurants and doctors offices across Shelby County. Even people in New York City and in Houston, Texas, are holding them up.

The signs say they support Memphis city employees.

The MPA is asking you to post them after the council cut employee and retiree health benefits, instead of raising property taxes, to fund the pension.

"We want the Chamber of Commerce to understand: deal with business and stay out of government," said MPA President Mike Williams.

Williams said the chamber was behind the vote claiming they lobbied for big businesses that are already getting tax breaks.

"We are giving anywhere to $50 to 80 million in tax breaks in a year. Do you think it would solve some of the problem? I do!" said Williams.

Some taxpayers WREG talked to say they will join the fight.

"I know two policemen that have worked for the city for over 20 years. They do nothing, but wake up every day and run these streets. They don't complain," said Rhonda Ramsey.

While others said boycotting business will just hurt other people in Memphis.

"I think there's another way you can do it. Boycotting the businesses here in Memphis who are actually taxpayers and hiring employees is not going to help," said Darrell Catron.

Williams believe it will make a difference.

"If you want to get in on the fight, come in where we are," said Williams.

If you support the cause, Williams is asking you to post pictures on the MPA Facebook page or post blue and red ribbons on your homes and cars.

WREG reached out to the Chamber, but have yet to hear back.

The council said the vote became final after the minutes were approved.


  • NoMoreMrsNiceGuy

    Are the people in New York City and Houston going to donate money to pay for the budget shortfall in Memphis? Just wondering since they are being so supportive. Of course if the boycott works and less people are using businesses and services in Memphis, you won’t need as many police or firefighters, then you can save money by cutting the workforce and just giving better benefits to those left with a job. Or maybe we can cut the police and firefighter services to the high crime areas, which we all know contribute little or no revenue to pay for the majority of the services they require. There should be across the board cuts to all city employees, to all the mayor’s staff, to all the ridiculous spending done in this ridiculous city. Memphis is a huge failure and there is no leadership on the horizon willing or able to make the changes necessary for it to be successful. It’s cheaper and safer to live on the Mississippi side and everyone’s who has half a brain will move there or better yet far away from this backwards, behind-the-times area!

    • Gonebabygone

      You have some valid points there. I will say that there seems to be a handful of people working to fix the budget problems, but that the cuts and changes they will have to make will probably get them voted out of office. They will be replaced by the same type of politician who spent us into this mess, the poor and the unions will be appeased, the rest of us will pay for it all and those who can afford to leave will continue to do so.

    • blahblahblah

      Everyone who voted for Obama is to blame. If it was not for his unaffordable healthcare, this would not be an issue.

    • Get Informed

      Hey niceguy, they did move there. They are already gone because their houses got broken into 3 times in 12 months because your police department was underfunded. And you want to underfund it more? If you think it’s such a great compensation package come join the force. There are now more openings than ever before due to the mass exodus to other departments. Of course they are cherry picking the best employees. I wonder if it matters how good the police are that investigate rapes, crimes against children and homicides? Would you offer a guy 50 bucks to mow your lawn and then after he got through give him a 5 and slam the door in his face. That is exactly what this city government just did on a much more serious level. How would you like it if you went to your last day of work after 30 yeasrs and they just told you they aren’t really giving you any of that stuff they promised when you got hired. They aren’t broke and they don’t “tolerate” suggestions. There are several options beyond property tax that could have been explored but the problem is we don’t have the braintrust to get it done.

    • Get Informed

      by the way this pension worked just fine for over 25 years. In fact in 2007 it was in the black, not the red. This even kept the city from having to pay in 7.5% into social security for employees. The pay 6.2 % I believe for the pension. And frankly even thought they were getting quite a deal there they didn’t even do that. It has since come back from the devastation of 2008 and is currently 83% funded even without the city contributing what it was supposed to. 80% is widely considered the national benchmark for healthy. However the administration supported legislation to get pushed through that makes pensions in Tn have to be funded 100 pct in 5 years. That put a giant weight on our backs. Thus, now we have a “crisis” that need not have been there. Why was that done? For the benefit of the employees? Yeah, ok. That is obviously not a concern of this city government, hat has been proven here recently. Now there is justification for raping and pillaging of benefits to “save the pension” that is not in any real danger even without proper contributions by the city, imagine if they did contribute to it properly? We would never have been here. There are many places with pensions that work great and the city pension does too, the problem is we keep putting money into pyramids that are a drag on our economy and throw money away to anything but what benefits the citizens like roads and public safety. How will any new workers ever want to work here seeing how these current employees got renigged on as badly as they did. The problem is we need some new people in the city government. I think Shelby county is fearful for their property values if Memphis decides to go Metro. I wonder if aquiring all of Memphis at once would make your values go up or down?

  • TigreNoir

    Mike Williams, you should find a city that you like and move there. Houston and NYC have their own unsolved financial problems. Why take advice from someone with just dust in their pockets? Mr. Williams, stop crying like a rug rat and try working within the system. You don’t deserve any more pay until you can clean up your own ranks. MPD crime is causing Memphis to spend the money that could be your pay raise.

    • Henri Brooks Wig

      Mike Williams has no control over who gets hired. Nor can he demote pitiful excuses for leadership in the department that often allow pitiful behavior and low morale to flourish. But dropping insurance for retirees and continually raising premiums with no raise, doesn’t bode well for hiring in higher quality candidates does it?

  • Henri Brooks Wig

    Memphis gives more money away in tax breaks to multi-million dollar corporations than any other city in Tennessee COMBINED. Yet can’t keep its obligations to the middle and working class. Sad.

  • Paul Fischer

    Its time the local government retiree’s understand that the taxpayers (i.e. business and homeowners) have been taxed to a breaking point that more taxpayers are moving out than are coming in. If the military retirees can be forced to pay for their healthcare, then a local government retiree can too.

    • Fred

      You should educate yourself before speaking on the matter. My good friend is retired military and he pays 210 dollars A YEAR for insurance for he and his wife plus free prescriptions. This is putting city retirees at over 1700 dollars A MONTH and they are throwing your wife off the plan if she works. Check my facts if you doubt me.

    • Average Joe

      Big Business isn’t being taxed to death? Up to 90% in tax breaks for Chamber members’ businesses, but who is going to pay for those tax breaks? Just take it from the middle class employees. The PILOT system is broken, yet the Mayor has stated that, if he can cut even more of the employee benefits, he can pass out more economic incentives to big business. Corporations are robbing this country blind while the citizens just shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well”. Memphis is just another easy target for these corporations.

      • Gonebabygone

        The corporations coming here are just taking what has been offered by the mayor and other elected officials…some of which, if memory serves, have been endorsed by the same unions now upset at the fact their benefits are being cut. Eventually, money runs out. The proper targets for protest are the tax and spend politicians who cared not about budgets. What more can we expect when they cannot balance their own personal checkbooks? Unfortunately, the ones having to make the decisions on what to cut to fix DECADES of bad management will end up being targeted and replaced by more wasteful spenders.

        And honestly, as much as I hate the PILOT program, I don’t think we would have ANY new jobs to replace the ones that have disappeared the last few years. Memphis has taxed itself out of the running and is full of uneducated and unskilled people. People don’t relocate here for bike lanes and music. They go to places with good jobs, safe streets, low taxes and good schools. Memphis cannot compete with places who have these things, so money must be offered to bribe companies to come here.

    • Harry

      To Paul, Bike lanes, buying the Redbird Stadium, River front development, huge tax breaks to businesses, all on the backs of the middle class, city workers. Watch as the best and brightest city employees leave this city for greener pastures and we will be left with average workers. Good luck getting your neighbors yard cut when the grass is 4 feet tall…or getting that pot hole on your street repaired.

    • Karen

      Actually Paul retired military are still eligible for tri care. The reason tax payers are , “as you say taxed to the breaking point” is because this city wastes millions of dollars on pilot programs that don’t work and giving big businesses tax breaks for years! The reason people are leaving is not because of property tax, it’s because of the horrible state this city has become under the hands of this administration! Before you start posting things you obviously know nothing about you might want to educate yourself. Good luck finding that job in in healthcare administration! Lol!

  • Randa Johnson

    This city spends way too much money on new projects while neglecting it responsibilities of paying for what it already has. While we can not afford our basic services (police, fire, trash disposal and/or park maintenance) we continue to build bike lanes, riverfront development and many other pet projects that may be good for the city but if we can’t afford it then we need to just pass and get our finances in order.

  • Harry

    Congratulations Memphis City Council, you have now motivated ALL city employees to do sub par work. You thought the trash, gangs, drugs, violent crime, roaming wild dogs and overgrown weeds and grass were bad before…JUST WAIT. Memphis will be the nastiest city in the nation and you can thank the idiots on the city council for the upcoming disaster. The city workers are madder than I have ever seen them. The saddest cut of all is the idiots that caused this problem will be re elected by the same idiots. Thank God, I moved from Memphis years ago.

  • Tammy Wallace

    Great. Go ahead and worsen the problem because you can’t handle the fact that our taxpayers can’t afford to pay YOUR retirement anymore. We can’t even pay for our own. You’re hurting workers, most of which probably own property in Memphis and at least pay rent, by boycotting businesses. Government and Business aren’t mutually exclusive. No businesses, no taxpayers. High taxes, no businesses.

    • Truth

      Wake up Tammy! What the taxpayers can’t afford to pay anymore are the million dollar projects ALL OVER TOWN (i.e. $66 MILLION DOLLAR Raleigh Springs Mall rehab, Sears Tower rehab, etc…etc…) that are approved by the City Council. You don’t approve spending $24 MILLION dollars to buy a unprofitable BALLPARK if it means cutting the throats of public SERVANTS, many of who RISK THEIR LIVES EVERY DAY to keep the people of this city safe!!!! These contracts and benefits are due to the employees and retirees that have sacrificed their lives and careers for this city. A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT. The city has a MORAL obligation to keep it’s contracts!! Stand UP for WHAT IS RIGHT!!

  • Thisaintit

    Tje tword is called….compromise. Which this administration refused. It was understood from the beginning something had to give. Suggestions were made over and over but fell on death ears. I find it apalling to see government turn their back on the men and woman that help government to actually function. Period!!!! Priorities are screwed up in this city. Well now we go see how these million dollar businesses operate when people keep their dollars in house

  • Glenda Haney

    This is my husband’s social security they are playing with because he paid his percentage into a city pension instead of social security and medicare. He gave 7.25% of his money to the city of Memphis to keep safe so he would have something when he became too old and beat up to work anymore. He was promised that healthcare was included. When your social security is taken away, then you can rejoice in our loss and you and my family will be even. Enjoy those golden years without your social security check just like we are going to enjoy ours without my husband’s pension.

  • Christine

    In my opinion I think that all city employees are under paid and their lives are not valued. Police, Fireman, and other city employees put their lives on the line every day. We live in a time where policeman are being shot and killed on a regular basis. I will participate in the boycott. I knew a Michigan State trooper who was killed during a traffic stop. Also I know a police officer that had responded to a domestic dispute. When one of the police officers put the husband in handcuffs, the wife stabbed one of the police officers in the back. I would hate to say it, but if one day a business that is a member of the chamber of commerce need assistance, help may no be there because police and firemen may have taken jobs in other cities.

  • Get Informed

    memphis will be the sweatshop of the south if we are not careful. Nothing but low paying jobs and an elite rich. Starting to sound like the Hunger Games.

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