Firefighting

Sick Calls Decrease But Memphis Benefits Debate Continues

The Memphis Police Department returned to normal operations Sunday, July 13, for the first time in more than a week with fewer than 350 officers calling in sick, reports The Memphis Daily News.

And the number of sick calls among Memphis firefighters dropped to 60 Sunday, the lowest total for the department since sick calls among firefighters spiked Wednesday, July 9.

But those numbers could surge again depending on what happens at City Hall Tuesday when a Memphis City Council committee begins fielding alternative proposals from citizens to the health care benefits cuts and changes the council approved last month.

Union police and firefighters plan to again protest outside City Hall Tuesday afternoon and are expected to show up in large numbers for the committee sessions as they have in past weeks.

The number of fire department sick calls spiked the day after a City Hall press conference by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. that drew several dozen protestors, most of them wearing yellow firefighters T-shirts.

The sick-outs reflect the volatility of the civic discussion and it remains high even as the sick calls decline.

Memphis City Council member Edmund Ford was targeted early in the reaction before the blue flu for his comments about the large number of police and fire department retirees who do not live in the city and thus don’t pay city property taxes that fund the benefits at the center of the controversy.

Seventy two percent of city government’s retirees do not live in the city of Memphis – 60 percent of retirees younger than 65 and 77 percent of retirees older than 65.

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