Friday, August 6, 2010

Louie Wright In Trouble?

For a guy with a lot of push in this town it's hard to find a picture of him on line! This is from pictures of an award ceremony back in 2008 when Louie Wright was celebrated as "Labor Representative of the Year." (Link here if you are interested.) However, in 2010, Mr. Wright may be in trouble. Currently he is president of Local 42 of the IAFF--the firefighter's union. It is believed that much of the momentum behind the MAST/KCFD merger came from Mr. Wright, in order to have more power down at City Hall.

The issue of the pensions is proving to be a problem in the MAST take over. MAST pensions were more like that of a private company--401 (K) and the like. Firefighter pensions are classic government pensions. Folding the two, without causing an imbalance and perceptions of unfair treatment has been more difficult--and expensive--than the city anticipated. (Many of us who were not in favor of the MAST/KCFD merger pointed at this as a potential problem. We were humored and ignored.)

In addition, Mr. Wright supported candidates with Local 42 money and they all lost in Tuesday's election. And his efforts to get members of the Jackson County prosecutor's office into Local 42 have not borne any fruit. And the firefighters haven't had a raise in a while.

So at the union meeting on August 4th, a move was made to remove Louie Wright as union president. Per the reporting of Tony on TKC, the vote was a majority, but legal maneuvering during the next meeting on August 5th rendered the vote moot and the members' voices mute. Except for the chatter on the internet, there was lots of that.

I have never worked in a union shop. Never had to see the machinations of the union up close. So I am no expert. But it sounds to me that Mr. Wright is in trouble. His move with MAST and his backing of losing candidates may end up being his undoing. I don't know what has to happen to remove him from his office. But I would bet it is going to happen and IAFF local 42 will have new leadership soon.

Is it too much to hope that it is someone who puts the members of the union first, and the interests of the city and its citizens a close second and his/her ambitions for power and prestige way on the back burner? Yeah, probably.

Tony's coverage--link here. And Yael Abouhalkah of the Kansas City Star got wind of it and editorialized.

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