- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - The Fort Wayne City Council has reaffirmed its vote to end collective bargaining for all city employees except police officers and firefighters despite the mayor’s pledge to veto the ordinance.

The Republican-led council voted along party lines Tuesday night to block an attempt to reconsider the measure it approved in a 6-3 vote two weeks ago.

Democratic Mayor Tom Henry said the ordinance was a divisive action that isn’t needed in Indiana’s second-largest city.

“Now is not the time to risk the progress we’re making in our community by rushing through an ordinance that takes away the rights of our award-winning city employees,” Henry said in a statement. “We win the future by making smart choices, not by jeopardizing the formula for success and demoralizing our city team.”

The mayor has 10 days to issue a veto, which the council could override with six votes. That vote could come during the council’s June 24 meeting, The Journal Gazette and The News-Sentinel reported.

Sponsors of the change say the employee unions have increased costs and inefficiencies for the city.

The ordinance would affect about 575 workers, while nearly 800 public safety employees would remain covered by union contracts, according to city officials.

Democratic Councilman Glynn Hines told WANE-TV that the council hasn’t taken enough time to consider the issue since the proposal was introduced in early May.

“This issue is much bigger than a sidewalk, a street or a sewer,” he said. “It’s people and their lives, and I think we should have taken more time.”

Dozens of union members and supporters filled the council chambers for Tuesday’s meeting. They cheered speakers who suggested that council members supporting the ordinance be voted out of office in the 2015 city elections.

Republican Councilman Russ Jehl said he didn’t believe more debate would change any minds.

“Everybody knows where they stand on this issue,” Jehl said. “Most of us understood where we stood on the issue even before the discussions took place.”

The Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011 added to state law a ban on union contracts involving state employees - a step then-Gov. Mitch Daniels implemented by executive order the day after he took office in 2005.

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