What will it take to end the Blue Flu?

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- When it comes to the Blue Flu, what is the bottom line? What is it going to take to end this job action?

City workers agreed we are all paying more for health coverage these days, but insisted this about more than that. They said it's about broken promises.

Still, retirees, taxpayers and council members all agreed on one thing: something has to be done

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove held her fourth Crime Summit Tuesday night, but people ended up voicing their concerns about the Blue Flu and giving ideas on how to bring it to an end.

Fullilove had kind words for police and harsh ones for fellow city council members at the meeting.

"I care about this officer, and I care about this one, because I know they're doing the best they can do for us," the councilwoman said, pointing to officers in the crowd. "But the administration has screwed them!"

The summit was held at Lake Grove Baptist Church. However, instead of blight, some wanted to talk about the Blue Flue, where hundreds of police officers have called out sick. Many have called out in protest of cuts to health care coverage.

Charles Payne said at the meeting that, as a taxpayer, he is willing to do whatever he has to, to help police, fire and other city workers.

"If my taxes have to go up for me to have a safe neighborhood, I would go along with it," he said.

Thomas Malone with the Fire Fighters Association said employees and retirees only want the coverage promised to them.

"If you work and you retiree from this city, you'll get a defined benefit pension for the rest of your life, and if your wife never remarries, she can keep that same pension until she dies," he said of the coverage.

He said there is a simple solution to bring the outcry to an end: compromise.

"The employees give a little. That's not going to sit well," he said. "The businesses give some, and the taxpayers give some."

Mayor A C Wharton has asked people to bring their ideas for funding pensions to a meeting next Tuesday. Malone said he has a plan he will be presenting.

WREG called the Memphis police union to get their ideas on how to end the protest, but never got a call back.


  • Enough

    As a military wife , I say shame on you. My husband couldn’t call in with the “Blue Flu” as all people in his unit died. Yet some did die, being military. You all think Military has it any better? Check it out..yet they don’t call in sick with the “military flu”. People , I know in the military, have seen people die. You guys are all in a snit about your deductibles. I understand, I honestly think that the city council should pay back half their salaries , as they have done nothing but pad their lifestyles. So how about we boot all the city councils, mayor, anyone who has anything to do with how Memphis, Shelby is handled and we start from scratch …City council has to pay back the police/fire 100% of what they took, Then we start new…If city council members can’t pay it back then I suppose they go bankrupt and sell all they have to support the people who make us safe. As we see they (the city council) has don’t nothing but pad their pockets…

    • Katie

      First let me say they are not in a “snit” about deductibles. The city council and the mayor have squandered millions of dollars, not paid their part of the pension and now want to squander away more on the backs of city workers by taking away their insurance , taking away their death benefit, and trying to take away their pension as well. The city has not met their financial obligation for years and now the state has ordered them to pay up! These officers can call in sick because it is earned time and yes even in the private sector you have earned sick days which are yours and you do not get fired for calling off. Most of you people with negative things to say about all this need to realize the city does not pay into social security, the pension is self sustained through employee contributions since the city has failed to pay their part in over 7 years! Firefighters and Cops have 2 of the most stressful and underpaid jobs in the world! It’s funny how you want to bash them now because they want what was promised to them, some even giving up their lives, but you will all be the FIRST to call when you need help! They deserve every penny they get, they earn that and much more! God bless and protect them because they are much better people than any of us!

      • Christina

        Yes, this! Finally someone gets it! It’s not just about benefits, though that is a major part of it. It’s about the backwards priorities of tax money allocation. They have racked up over $100 mil in budget cuts, and instead of taking care of their obligations with those savings, they are blowing it on developments and improvements of things the citizens could give a poo about.

    • Memphis Belle

      Enough…. I too am a military wife. And you’re right, people do die in the military. My husband was an infantryman in the Arghandab River Valley in 2009. Of the 37 lost in his brigade, 16 of them were my husband’s friends and brothers and he did in fact see many of them die. Here’s a news flash though, officers die on the police force as well. I am now an MPD wife. When my husband signed on the dotted line for the Army, he knew exactly what he’d be getting from them. When he signed on the dotted line for MPD, he thought he knew what he’d be getting from them as well. This is not about insurance premiums going up–that’s to be expected in this current political climate. This is about the city not taking care of the people who have served it faithfully for years. The retirees were promised a safety net and now that net is being snatched out from under them. What reason do the current officers have for staying and protecting this city now that they know the city won’t protect them in their old age? My husband gave a lot of himself to the U.S. Army, too much in fact, and now he’s giving the rest to this city. If my husband had died in combat, and it nearly happened several times, I would have been given generous death benefits in order to take care of myself and our family. If my husband dies in service to this city, I will be left out in the cold. Trying to compare your husband’s military service to the current situation is like trying to compare apples to oranges and this is coming from someone who has experienced both.

    • Army Wife

      Free healthcare…clearly you have never been in the military. Charges for healthcare are on EVERY LES, as it comes out of their pay AND what’s worse is that we have some of the suckiest plans in the country, due to the fact that many serious illnesses are NOT covered for family members. AND as far as that snarky comment about a 20 year retirement… why don’t you go and serve your country and have a bomb land in your chair as one did my husband’s only minutes after he left his room OR be shot at from all directions when you are pulling guard duty only 12 miles from enemy lines. What a Joke! Some of you are either enemies of democracy or very jealous of anyone who has done something productive with their lives, but either way, you really need to SHUT UP!!!

  • bambam84

    Nothing in this life is guaranteed. PERIOD. Not even contracts.
    You’d think a bunch of grown adults would be able to figure that out. But, no. They’re off playing hooky because of “Broken Promises,” normal civilians never even get a shot at.
    If you don’t like it? Quit. Nobody’s FORCING you to go through it. Find employment elsewhere.
    And before anybody says anything about double standards, why don’t you try repititively calling in sick the next time you don’t get something your way?
    The cops have a serious “entitlement,” standard around here.
    They’re getting paid (or not, depending on pay grade) to sit around and DO NOTHING in protest. And there will be no official way to tell who exactly loses their job from this, will there?

  • Disturbed

    How could the council vote to pay for pensions for sanatation workers that opted out of the pension plan and then a few months later vote to cut benefits to retirees who paid into the pension and health plans?

    Why had this question not been asked? They should start by cutting the retirement to sanatation works that opted out many years ago. Then cut appointed positions (all six figure) that are not necessary. Those two things alone would probably make up most of the money needed to pay for at least the retirees portion of benefits.

  • proud wife

    How dare anyone possibly know how we feel. This isn’t about deductibles, and increased premiums. It is a whole lot more. It’s about people. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children. My husband also is a war veteran whose injuries forced him to take a medical retirement from the military. The military has and will continue upholding their promise. My husband and I depend on his retirement to pay our mortgage. And to provide us both health care until we both are deceased. We can plan our lives on that assurance. The police and fire, just as the military have been guaranteed these benefits. We your civil servants just ask for what was guaranteed to us.

  • Errin

    I don’t see Wharton or any of the Council members saying cut my salary or let me pay a little more in my pention. Why is it always the police and fireman who subject to cuts first? To the military wife, they can’t call out sick when things don’t go their way. But they are getting screwed right now. Look at how bad they’re being treated at the VA. I support the blue flu. Give them hell mpd

    • Stop-crying-do-your-job-or-quit

      I support the ones that are still out there doing the job … how can you support these wimps that has call in sick like little girls … If things don’t go right on my job (and Lord knows they don’t all the time) I can’t call in sick. Those guys need to man-up and tighten their belts like everyone else.

      • Mike

        You are/will get your wish. Apparently their quitting in droves. You think you’ve got bad cops now just wait! I hear these guys haven’t had a pay increase in 7 years on top of all this, have you? Only the bottom of the barrel will apply. Rest assured.

    • Sick of Hypocits


      The cuts proposed by the administration and approved by the council affect ALL city employees, not just the Police and Fire Departments. The Police and Fire are the main one crying foul. #readingisfundamental

  • John G

    I think about time to kick our wonderful Mayor and his City council out of office because they have squandered millions
    of our tax dollars on things like a $40 million T-shirt shop,$40 million on a walkway across the Mississippi river,and the money spent on buying Autozone Park among the starters the list goes on and on,and who is Janis Fullilove to even think trying to put her 2 cents in since she said at the last election that since A.C. did not support her she was going to do everything in her power to be a “thorn in his side” what kind of attitude is that especially since as many times the Police have been called to her house because of fights kick her out to.

  • dkbruce

    When a city employee decides to bring forth an action that could be “dangerous” for the city they were sworn to protect, they should be fired, end of story. This situation is no different than the Air Traffic Controllers strike back in Reagan’s day and he was well within his right to fire them all. Everyone across this country have had to tighten their belts and endure cuts, increases in health insurance premiums and broken promises from our employers and none of us are allowed to take an indefinite time to “sulk”. I am tired of the “Calaparri style” strong arm approach of this organized “Blue Flu”, it is time for a strong medicine to bring this epidemic to an immediate end!

    And to close my rant- if you don’t like the council then stop voting for people based on “race” and “who you know” and vote for the candidate that can best improve your area and has their city’s best interest at heart!

  • Bill

    If you hack into someone’s bank account and steal their life’s savings, and then stab them in the back, don’t be surprised if they retaliate. And don’t whine and cry about it and pretend you’re the one who’s been wronged.

  • Don

    What will it take to end the Blue Flu?
    A good it would be a good start for someone to put duct tape on the mouths of Toney Armstrong and AC Wharton and kick them out of town.
    The citizens should ask them for them to resign. both of them are useless.

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    to the mIlItary In here who do “just” mIlItary, constantly beratIng mpd, etc. put yourselves In theIr shoes! ok…what If all of a sudden your FREE MEDICAL CARE came to a dead stop and u had to PAY for all medical care?! what if suddenly your miliatary checks got cut 4.6%?! would u elect to stay in the military or try to figure out a way to get honorably discharged? put yourselves in the mpd etc.shoes before u continue to criticize!


    As a one time employee of the county decades ago, I’ve always wondered why government employees were not simply a part of the Medicare and Social Security programs. Had that been done a long time ago, many of these heartbreaking retirement and healthcare issues wouldn’t exist today.
    Concerning the “Blue Flu” epidemic, my question is what do other comparable size cities do for their police and fire fighters? For example, how does Memphis compare with Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Atlanta, Little Rock? To my knowledge, if anyone has looked at this, it hasn’t been reported to the public in any detail. And it seems that to remain competitive for highly trained personnel, this is the first thing the city should look at.
    My opinion is that any police and firefighter that is in a life threatening, feet-on-the-street position should have the best healthcare benefits possible. That said, we all know that there are many job positions within the police & fire depts. that do not fit this description and it should not apply to them.

  • guardian

    the county is coming the county is coming instead of metro mpd can be disbanded instead try to find employment elsewhere

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