Several Cahokia city employees fired without explanation - KMOV.com

Several Cahokia city employees fired without explanation

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CAHOKIA, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- A major shakeup in Cahokia, Illinois has left 10 city employees without a job and without an explanation from the city's mayor.

Newly elected Mayor Curtis McCall and the city council approved a motion to terminate 10 employees without providing an explanation. More than 100 citizens packed the village's board meeting demanding to know why.

“I realize change is not easy, but it's sometimes necessary,” McCall said to the packed room.

While some were at the meeting in support of the mayor, many others were there with the opposite view. Tempers flared as several people were escorted out. One man was arrested after getting into an argument with a police officer.

The motion was passed to fire workers in the sewer and water department, finance and code enforcement without discussion. The city's attorney could be overheard asking if there would be public forum. The mayor responded with a “no.”

The only explanation provided was for the firing of the Director of the city food pantry, Christina Walker. The mayor accused Walker of putting those dependent on the food pantry in danger.

“Seniors were given expired milk, rotten meat, some citizens never received items, these items given to friends and family, and the most unthinkable, food sold in the streets,” McCall said.

Walker denies the allegations.

“They're lying, we have an outstanding relationship with the St. Louis Food Bank, no one has ever approached me about anything rotten at our food pantry,” Walker said.

Some of the allegations made against Walker could be criminal. However the Cahokia's police chief said McCall's comments marked the first time he heard such accusations leveled at Walker. The pantry will reopen in a few days under new management.

Former employee Rhonda Nichols, who worked in code enforcement, said she doesn't know what do to now.

“This is really hard, it's hard for a lot of people,” Nichols said.

Many of the terminated employees are union members. The union filed unfair labor practice charges against the city of Cahokia with the Illinois Labor Relations Board. A union representative told News 4 there must be just cause for termination but no cause was given. The representative also said nobody from the city has contacted the union.

McCall did not say when the newly vacant jobs will be filled.

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