FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A few Fort Wayne city council members are considering eliminating police and fire union presidents salaries.
Council president Marty Bender introduced an ordinance that would halt union presidents from being paid taxpayer dollars for union work. Sofia Rosales-Scatena is the president for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in Fort Wayne. Jeremy Bush is the president for Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Local 124. Both said council members don’t realize that their positions benefit the police officers, firefighters and the public.
“I think they don’t fully understand everything that goes into my job,” said Rosales-Scatena.
“I hope after [Tuesday's] meeting some of the members of council are educated as well on the responsibilities of the president of both the firefighters and police officers,” said Bush.
Rosales-Scatena and Bush provide certain services for their unions. They said they contribute policies and procedures, legal aid, liaison between union members and administration and other services.
Council member Russ Jehl believes these services should be paid for by the union members, not taxpayers.
“Every one of us wants to support the fire. Everyone wants to support the police,” said Jehl. “We want to make sure as far as our taxpayer funds are used, we want those to go support those departments, not unions.”
Bush said people are using the “union” term loosely. He said a union president’s job is involved in the daily operation of the department, which makes it a department-related business, not union business.
Council has delayed voting on a three-year contract with the city’s firefighters until this matter is resolved. That contract, as it stands now, includes Bush’s compensation. The council could vote on whether to stop footing the bill for the union presidents’ pay within a couple weeks.