Bradenton City Council ratifies pay raise for unionized public works employees

BRADENTON -- Unionized public works employees in the city of Bradenton will receive a 3 percent pay raise after the city council Wednesday approved a new contract.

The increase means 140 employees who belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME Council 79, District 3, will get about 50 cents more an hour. They include non-supervisory and non-public safety employees in the Public Works and Utilities departments responsible for water, sewer and sanitation services to residents, as well as maintenance of city parks and buildings.

Union members ratified the contract earlier in the week.

City Clerk and Treasurer Carl Callahan said the timing is crucial.

"We didn't want to wait because there are pay raises associated with this and it's critical. Through collective bargaining, it was just the final piece of it. Timing is crucial. We're giving these raises for the first full pay period in October, the last week of the month, so we can't wait too long," Callahan said after the meeting.

The negotiated pay raises will cost the city of Bradenton about $150,000, which Callahan says was previously budgeted for. He also noted the union raises were approved to keep in line with pay raises that were approved for all non-union city of Bradenton employees in supervisory and clerical capacities. Non-union employees earning $50,000 and above received a 2.5 percent wage increase and those earning below $50,000 were given a 3 percent increase.

"These are living wages for employees. They run the gamut from earning $25,000 or less or up to up to $60,000 a year, depending on the nature of the job. You also have to consider what else you get with these wages. We provide health care, retirement, vacation days, sick days, holidays and so on. It's not just a pay raise and that's it," Callahan said.

Now that pay raises have been settled, and before next year's contract negotiations, the city and the union will consider how to better define and clarify certain positions in the Public Works Department whose job descriptions are not so clearly defined because of the nature of the jobs.

"If you have jobs with clear position details, and you understand what the qualifications and requirements are, you may be able to advance if you know how to prepare and better yourself," said Callahan.

Kathryn Moschella, reporter, can be reached 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter