(WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and members of the AFSCME union held a historic news conference to announce a new compromise that would set up sanitation worker pensions.
For several years, union workers have complained that their trucks are outdated and that they are working paycheck to paycheck without a pension.
The debate over sanitation worker pensions in Memphis dates back to the days when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched and died for workers to have safer conditions.
The compromise Wharton and AFSCME negotiated would restore a $2.25 cut residents were about to get on their monthly sanitation fees. The money would be used to buy new trucks and establish a new pension account for sanitation workers.
In return, AFSCME workers promise 100 additional stops per day.
Sanitation workers say this compromise makes them feel that Dr. King, Jr.'s fight for sanitation workers' rights was not in vain.
"This is the moment. This is the moment. He's smiling right now," said Elmore Nickleberry, who, after 59 years, may be able to retire with a pension.
"You've put in 59 years, then you leave and you're trying to make it on social security," said Mayor Wharton. "That's unthinkable."
Wharton signed the agreement with the AFSCME union just days before the anniversary of King's march on Washington.
"It's almost prophetic we reached this point," he said. "We didn't design it this way."
The momentous signing, two years in the making, caused AFSCME Executive Director Gail Tyree to get choked up.
"It makes me so proud of the young men and women who have come behind them," said Tyree.
As part of the deal, Memphis residents will not get a planned $2.25 cut to their monthly sanitation fees. the city will buy trucks that automatically recycle. Eighty sanitation vacancies will remain unfilled and a retirement fund will be set up for workers.
"The citizens win, the administration comes out because we have a new relationship with the employees and the employees who wish to retire, they benefit from being able to do so with dignity," said Mayor Wharton.
Nickleberry is awestruck that the change happened during his lifetime.
"Now ... Now, I'm happy," he said.
The Memphis City Council is scheduled to vote on the item Tuesday.
Monday, September 15 2014 5:39 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:39:25 GMT
Horrific details of a southern Indiana homicide were released Monday, including allegations that Joseph Oberhansley ate portions of Tammy Jo Blanton's brain, heart and lungs after stabbing her to death.More >>
Horrific details of a southern Indiana homicide were released Monday, including allegations that Joseph Oberhansley ate portions of Tammy Jo Blanton's brain, heart and lungs after stabbing her to death. More >>
While you were sleeping, the Internet never stopped… Here's what's trending today. Mobile user? Click here to watch: Girl doesn't recognize clean-shaven father A father shaving his beard brings hisMore >>
While you were sleeping, the Internet never stopped… Here's what's trending today.More >>
Tuesday, September 16 2014 12:12 AM EDT2014-09-16 04:12:02 GMT
The Madison County Sheriff's Department has made an arrest of a drug dealer who has allegedly been distributing 25i, the synthetic LSD. Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker says that Kaleb K. ChhabraMore >>
Drug agents say synthetic drugs are becoming more popular in Mississippi, including one called 25i, also known as a synthesized form of LSD.More >>
Thursday, September 11 2014 2:31 AM EDT2014-09-11 06:31:36 GMT
Miss Mississippi, Jasmine Murray competed in swimsuit and evening wear preliminaries Tuesday night. The winners in the first night of preliminary competition were, Miss Ohio, Mackenzie Bart in Talent,More >>
Wednesday night it was Talent night where Miss Mississippi sang, Something's Gotta Hold On Me, which she also sang at the Miss Mississippi Pageant in July.More >>