Shelby County employees outraged over proposed revision to time-off policy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Shelby County employees outraged over proposed revision to time-off policy

A crowd filled the Shelby County Commission's chambers. A crowd filled the Shelby County Commission's chambers.

Shelby County employees locked horns with the county's Human Resources Department over vacation and sick leave at a meeting Tuesday.

In search of savings, Shelby County Government is considering a revised employee vacation and sick leave policy, leading to a mini revolt from some of the county's 6,000 employees.

County Mayor A C Wharton's administration left out all salary increases, implemented a hiring freeze, and offered a buyout for next year in order to get a budget passed that didn't require a property tax increase.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Shelby County Commission's chambers overflowed with outraged workers.  Shelby County Human Resources Director Mike Lewis took much of the heat.

"What more do the employees need to do to balance your budget for you?" county employee Edna Ward demanded.

The proposed change would be the second hit for employees this year, who will not receive a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for the fiscal year that begins July 1. 

"Add that three percent to the five percent increase in health.  We're taking an eight percent cut in pay," Ward said.

The county also wants to cut sick leave, bereavement, bonus and vacation days from a maximum of 55 days off each year, according to length of employment, to 27 days off.

"The cost of government is going up," Lewis said. "We all realize that."

But employees weren't hearing it.

"This administration is putting the whole financial crisis on the backs of the employees," Ward said.

Ultimately, the Shelby County Commission will have to vote on the matter.  If they adopt the proposed changes, they would go into effect at the beginning of 2009.


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