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‘We have a proven formula for success’

Collective-bargaining veto halts ideology-driven move

I recently vetoed an ordinance passed by City Council that would end collective bargaining for non-public safety union employees. This has been a divisive issue that sends the wrong message and is a step backward for our community. First, certain members of the City Council led you to believe that collective bargaining was all about dollars and cents, or as they put it, the taxpayer. But they brought no objective proof to the debate, cut off discussions without a public hearing and refused an independent, fact-based study endorsed by our own business community to investigate the issue thoroughly and ensure that decisions were made using proven data. And, from the data we do have, their claims of our team being overpaid are wrong. As their claims were shown to be false, they abandoned that to say it was just a difference in philosophy.

Knowledge gives us the power to make good decisions. We have not been given the opportunity to share facts and knowledge, and that’s why this rushed decision is so wrong.

A few City Council members have also said that you’re either with the taxpayer or with the city worker. That’s a false choice. I am firmly for both, and the lean and innovative leadership of my administration proves it. I’ve led our city through challenging economic times with a hardworking team that has helped us become a city others look to emulate. I know that by working together we can grow Fort Wayne best by working with, motivating and fairly rewarding our workers.

As mayor, I stand with all the people of Fort Wayne. I stand for what is right and what is best and what works to make Fort Wayne better, not an unnecessary, unproven idea that could harm our hard-fought success. I stand for what will strengthen our community for years to come, not what perhaps serves the short-term political interests of a few.

City Council’s unwillingness to abolish all unions, including the ones that are the largest and the biggest part of the budget, tells you unequivocally that the vote was about them and not about you, the taxpayer.

Each day, along with my team, we strive to make Fort Wayne a place of pride and opportunity. We work to deliver the highest-quality, most affordable services anywhere. Through sunny days and, more importantly, through blizzards, derechos and ice storms, our best practices have won numerous awards. The unprecedented momentum in our area is the resounding proof that we have found the winning formula.

My message to City Council is: Let’s get back to the collaborative partnership that made us strong. Let’s make smart, fact-based decision-making our guide, not a divisive, unproven philosophy. But I am unwilling to engage in ideological debates that serve only to divide and distract and cause confusion, speculation, and fear.

We have a proven formula for success in place. Let’s keep it growing. Let’s win the future by working together.

Tom Henry is mayor of Fort Wayne. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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