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'Blue Flu' not considered a strike - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

'Blue Flu' not considered a strike, but could call for future legal intervention

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Part of the city charter clearly defines a "strike" as a concerted work stoppage. But at this point, city leaders do not appear ready to enforce it. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) Part of the city charter clearly defines a "strike" as a concerted work stoppage. But at this point, city leaders do not appear ready to enforce it. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Councilman Myron Lowery, who worked as a reporter during the 1978 strike, won't rule out a stronger legal stance in the future. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5, file) Councilman Myron Lowery, who worked as a reporter during the 1978 strike, won't rule out a stronger legal stance in the future. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5, file)
MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC) - The sick call onslaught by Memphis police officers, and now firefighters, has been described in various ways such as "Blue Flu," "Red Rash," and a "crisis."

However, no one is using the word strike — an act that is punishable by immediate termination.

Part of the city charter clearly defines a "strike" as a concerted work stoppage. But at this point, city leaders do not appear ready to enforce it.

A strike is clearly defined in a city charter change following the infamous 1978 strike as, "the willful failure to report for duty, the willful absence from one's position, any concerted stoppage or slowdown of work." Additionally, agreements with the police and fire unions prohibit organized slow-downs, sit-downs, or sick-outs.

When WMC Action News 5's Jason Miles asked Memphis Fire Department Director Alvin Benson on his thoughts, Benson replied, "Again, I don't want to jump to conclusions," but also noted that he may think differently next week.

Councilman Myron Lowery, who worked as a reporter during the 1978 strike, won't rule out a stronger legal stance in the future.

"These public safety officers are doing what is their right, as of today," said Lowery. "If it gets to the point where a majority of our public safety officers are off work, I think that might be necessary."

Lowery is optimistic and hopeful a multi-hour meeting on Wednesday between union leadership and city leaders is a positive sign.

Unlike the 1978 strike, union leaders are not publicly condoning the current work stoppage, which was possible thanks to the city's generous sick leave policy.

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