Local union leaders say they feel betrayed after Metro Council’s vote

Union leaders ready to take Louisville to court to uphold contracts, keep employees

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Public safety leaders say they feel betrayed after Thursday night’s Metro Council vote which could strip them of resources and employees.

Louisville has to come up with $35 million in cuts fast, which means public safety may take a huge hit come June 25.

Union leaders are bracing for the worst, even though some council members say public safety won’t be touched.

“The first place that you look at cuts should not be in public safety, there are alternative ways to do it,” Councilman Kevin Kramer (R-District 11), who voted against the tax increase, said.

Metro Council members who voted down the tax increase say there are other ways to slice the pie.

“Unless they come up with some money that’s going to rain from the sky, somethings going to happen,” local EMS union leader John Stovall said.

Stovall and other leaders say it’s impossible for public safety to go untouched because it accounts for over 60 percent of the city’s budget.

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“Some of my members are not for taxes, neither is their president,”corrections union leader Tracy Dotson said. “So that vote wasn’t about being for something, it was about being against something sinister. Sometimes you have to make the lesser of two evils.”

The cuts corrections and EMS face, like losing ambulances and privatizing a corrections facility, may violate union contracts with the city, leaders said.

“Tracy and I both, and I’m sure the other unions, have a clause where you can’t erode our workforce,” Stovall said. “We have a contract in place and we fully intend to enforce the contract and make sure it’s held to the standard that we both negotiated with. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure it’s enforced.”

Dotson and Stovall stressed legal recourse would be pursued.

Right after the council voted down the tax increase, they approved the local fire union’s contract -- which prohibits layoffs. With proposed cuts, two firehouses would close, but the staff would be redistributed.

Local fire union leaders say that still does nothing for increased response times, those seconds between life and death.

“You’re going to see things (cut) that you absolutely as a citizen cannot do without in this city,” Dotson said.

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