City workers angered by council raise

8:09 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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Employees exercised during lunch as the Atlanta city council convened to give itself a pay raise.

ATLANTA -- Nobody got angrier quicker about the city's council's proposed pay raises than city employees.

RELATED | Atlanta City Council approves 52% salary increase

"It's unjust and it's unfair and it's just not right," said Gina Pagnotta-Murphy, a labor association president and 15 year city worker, moments before the city council voted. 

"Absurd" was the word used by Sabrina Harris. A six year employee in the city's procurement division, Harris was among those spending a lunch break on an elliptical in City Hall's "wellness center." Things were not well there.

"I'm a single mother with three children," Harris said. "And we need raises as well. And I think that if they get 'em we should get 'em."

"We all work for the government for the city of Atlanta. So if one goes up, everybody should go up," said Melinda Pringle, who was exercising next to Harris. Pringle is a 15 year veteran in information technology.

City council members looked at salaries across the country at comparable cities - and we looked at some additional cities. From the six figure salaries found for city council members in the northeast -- Philadelphia, Washington and New York -- to the more modest salaries found in cities like Charlotte, Albuquerque and Austin TX -- we found city council salaries are inconsistent across the country.

"They're not part time," said firefighters association president Jim Daws. "I see how much work they do. It's a grinding job. And for the amount of work they do, and the expertise they bring, I think they deserve a pay raise."

But Daws and other city workers say the council botched this one by failing to look out for other city workers.

"And we're going to be lost and forgotten again," Pagnotta-Murphy told reporters after the vote. "From two months from now, the next year, they're not going to think about a raise for us. They haven't in ten years."

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