City raises come under scrutiny; anger union leader

Two days ago, the Memphis City Council adopted its operating budget. A half billion dollar deal that gives no raises to city workers, despite months of union haggling. Now we know that hundreds of others did get raises, some very substantial.

It took six weeks for the City of Memphis to get us this list of raises.

"Oh my goodness..." But it only took seconds for union leader Dorothy Crook to react. "It just makes me livid about the whole setup. It really is bad," she said.

Between January and May of this year, the guy who prepared this list for us got a ten thousand dollar raise.

The manager of drain maintenance got a $19,000 raise. And a city attorney promoted to manage labor relations got a $37,000 bump.

Five city attorneys got raises greater than ten thousand dollars. One of them got a $15,000 raise. Another got $14,000.

All this while thousands of city workers were fighting for a one percent raise, a raise they didn't get.

City Attorney Sara Hall says she gave the raises because she's hired more seasoned lawyers and brought 20% more of the City's cases in house, saving taxpayers money.

"Not only has the salary line for the law division remained virtually constant, but the outside attorney fee usage has decreased. And so, the net result to the taxpayers is that we are managing our work in a more efficient manner and in a more effective manner that is saving dollars." She says she brought staff salaries up to match salaries paid in cities like Nashville.

But Crook says it shows the money is there and - she says - peer city comparisons should benefit other city workers too. "We think the same thing about our employees. We think they're just as good."

And - she says - the raises aren't fair.

In all, 170 raises were given during the first half of this year. Many were step increases, outlined in city policy. Others involved changes in job titles. And the ones we told you about were mostly given based on pay rates in other cities.

Click here to look at a list of employees that received raises. Microsoft Excel is required.