Memphis City Council approves bonuses for workers

The Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved a one-time bonus for all city employees.
The Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved a one-time bonus for all city employees.

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved a one-time bonus for all city employees.

Full time employees of the city of Memphis will receive a $750 bonus, while part time employees will receive $200.

Mayor A C Wharton proposed the bonuses and the council's personnel committee sent it to a vote before the full city council without making a recommendation.

Not all council members were happy about the bonuses.

"This is just a smokescreen," said council member Janis Fullilove.

While some Memphis City Council members frowned upon the mayor's gesture to propose a 1.5 percent employee bonus, others, like Councilman Harold Collins, see it as an act of good faith.

"I think it's looked upon as an olive branch," Collins said.

All employees are eligible for the bonus, including part-time, permanent part-time and full-time workers. But there is a stipulation that would prevent employees with written reprimands from being eligible for the bonus.

Fullilove said the bonus does not negate the 4.6 percent pay cut city workers have already taken.

"Where there's smoke there's fire," she said. "This year, it's 4.6. Next year, what will it be?"

Council Chairman Myron Lowery said the council is following the advice of the mayor. He said the council would not have approved the cuts, if it didn't think it was necessary.

Lowery said that since the mayor earned 65 percent of the vote in the recent election, which took place during labor negotiations, it seems the citizens agree with the employee pay cuts.

"I equate this to the city doing what it had to do six months ago because our budget was tight," he said. "Conditions have changed."

Overall, the council members who spoke to Action News 5 supported the bonus.

"Our city employees deserve this bonus," Lowery said. "They're hard working people."

And while Fullilove will vote in favor of the bonus, she's not convinced.

"When I stated that I was going to be a thorn in the side of the mayor, this is just a splinter of that thorn," she said.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.