Patterson: Mayor Berke and the unions

Big Labor has supported Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke throughout his political career. Now, he's paying his union benefactors back - with your money.

On Feb. 12, while the world breathlessly watched the voting begin over UAW representation at Volkswagen, Mayor Berke quietly signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 205.

Building upon an existing framework established by former Mayor Ron Littlefield, the Berke/SEIU agreement promises, among other things, to allow the union to hold meetings on city property (Article 7). In addition, Article 8.1 promises that the city will make no "changes to ... personnel policies without first providing notice to the union." (The agreement can be read in its entirety at

But the most egregious supplication to the union comes in Article 11, which provides 600 hours of "release time," allowing union officials to do union work -- including attending union conventions and taking union training classes -- while being paid by Chattanooga taxpayers.