Leaders say city unions will not ask for pay raises this year

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Over 10,000 union members employed by the city of Memphis have agreed not to negotiate pay increases for a year, union leaders announced Monday.

The move impacts police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and many other employees. Members of the city's unions voted to give up negotiations this year in light of the bad economy and the city's financial state.

Leaders of the city's unions said their members recognize that asking for raises now is not in the best interest of the city or citizens of Memphis.

Union leader C. H. Pate, who represents city engineers, came up with the idea.  The city's 12 other union leaders agreed with him.

"Budget meetings didn't sound that good," Pate said. "We figured - I did - suggest it to the city, us go a year, give the mayor a chance to figure out how he's going to swap departments around. Let him re-arrange and then come back to the table."

"It's bad times. Everybody realizes that," added J. D. Sewell, president of the Memphis Police Association. "We are doing our good faith part to help the mayor out and the citizens of Memphis."

Union leaders said the city will save $100,000 simply by not having to hire negotiators. They hope their move will prevent potential hiring freezes and layoffs.

City employees received a three percent raise last year, and a five percent raise the year before.  They did not receive any raises in 2006 or 2007.

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