FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) - Weeks after City Council overrode a mayoral veto to strip non-public safety unions of their collective bargaining rights, Mayor Tom Henry's, D-Fort Wayne, full commitment to those unions is being questioned.
The mayor has previously said he would explore options to reinstate the some rights of city employees that were stripped by City Council. Officials with the Henry Administration tell 21Alive that using executive order to accomplish that is unlikely at this point.
Multiple union officials claim that despite his public support for labor organizations, the mayor may not have given full effort on behalf of city unions to protect their negotiating authority.
Hosting an Iftar on Wednesday night at Botanical Conservatory, Henry refuted those claims.
"It's somebody's idea of a bad joke," Henry says. "I'm not only a union supporter, but I used to be in a union years ago. That's a low blow."
On an edition of Political Radar on Wednesday night, 21Alive's Jeff Neumeyer posed the question of the whether union leadership felt the mayor had done everything within his power to lobby on their behalf.
"The mayor's program has nothing to do with ending collective bargaining or unions," former Democratic City Councilman Tim Pape, who served as the attorney for the Henry Administration in the collective bargaining fight, said. "If you get a City Council that will support returning collective bargaining, Mayor Henry will support that."
"If Mayor Henry supported collective bargaining, then why did he wait two years to give to City Council the latest contract," Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine responded. "He obviously wasn't satisfied with collective bargaining. Otherwise, he would not have withheld for 24 months a contract that City Council had to approve."
The mayor dispute's Shine's notion that contracts were kept from City Council consideration for an extended period of time.
The mayor adds that he is still pursuing the institution of department-specific policy changes to provide extra protections for city union workers in light of suspension of collective bargaining.
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