Tulsa Mayor Talks Furlough With City Employees

Friday, May 1st 2009, 2:30 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - City of Tulsa employees have plenty of questions after Mayor Kathy Taylor asked the Tulsa City Council to put workers on furlough to save money.

City trucks lined up outside the Tulsa Convention Center and employees streamed in for a rare mass employee meeting with the mayor.  About 600 employees listened as Mayor Taylor explained why she thinks a furlough is the only way to balance the budget.

4/30/2009 Related story: Taylor Unveils Tulsa's Proposed Budget       

Many employees questioned the fairness of a furlough that, because of union contracts, might not apply to everyone.

"I have the authority to do furloughs but police and fire have a lot of things in their contract they might give up as a financial equivalent to furlough and that's where those discussions are," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.

The unions for police, fire and municipal employees all oppose a furlough.

"Instead of just making blanket decisions because that's where you want to go, you've got to have collective bargaining and that's all we're asking for," said Phillip Evans with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Bill Roland represents unionized employees outside of police and fire, and he says his people had rather work more instead of be paid less.

"Taking a holiday off or work a holiday and not get paid is a lot easier for my people than having to take it out of their pocket," said Bill Roland with the Municipal Employees Union.

Some employees said they understand the need for the furlough.

"I'd rather see furloughs than people lose their jobs.  So, I'm all for it.  We've been down this road before and we'll get through this," said City of Tulsa employee Marilyn Moore Roby.

The mayor says she's likely to have more employee meetings before the budget is finalized.

The city council is working on the budget now and they have to finish up in time to approve it before July 1st.