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Metro employees feel 'left behind' after no pay raise

Union presidents respond to Amazon tax incentives
Posted: 5:22 PM, Nov 29, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-29 23:22:19Z
Metro employees feel 'left behind' after no pay raise

Union presidents are speaking out in favor of a resolution calling for Metro employees to get a pay raise. This comes after the City of Nashville announced they will offer Amazon $15 million in tax incentives to bring 5,000 jobs, and a logistics facility, to the downtown area.

Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood said Metro Nashville Police Officers can't afford to live in the place they work anymore.

Smallwood said, "We don't make a whole lot of money, you're not getting rich doing this job like I said. Your starting salary is $43,000 a year, and in order to make ends meet, you've got to work extra jobs just to pay the bills and that's not a situation we should be existing in."

Earlier this week, a group of Metro Council members introduced a resolution that demands Metro Employees get the cost-of-living adjustment that was promised to them. Originally, city officials said they didn't have enough money.

Smallwood said, "To give all Metro employees across the board to fill the promise of last year would be $18-million dollars. Of course they've got two 3 percent promises that they've made, so that figure would be significantly higher."

The Nashville Firefighters Union president said morale is down after the Amazon tax incentive announcement.

Mark Young said, "Big corporations have said they're coming to Nashville, Nashville is rolling out the red carpet, but the people out here working the streets are being left behind." 

Our city's protectors want those responsible for handling the city's finances to support them.

Young said, "They're out here night and day, 24/7 making these emergency calls, risking their lives, taking care of the taxpayer, the visitor, and it's time to take care of the employee."

Mayor David Briley said the Amazon incentives, and pay raises, are a separate issue.

Smallwood said, "Saying that these two matters are separate does nothing to ensure the long term welfare of our employees. It's time that these employees are a treated at a higher level of priority. Metro can do better, and it's time to do better."

The Service Employees International Union representing Metro Nashville Public School teachers and other Metro employees also released a statement:

"While Metro employees appreciate the gesture, stopping future incentives for Amazon would not come close to solving the root cause of our current budget problems. The cost of living adjustments alone total $18 million plus there is the almost $40 million shortfall in Metro Schools funding. As was stated during the last budget cycle, Mayor Barry and the Metro Council failed to adjust the property tax rate following the reappraisal in 2016 to adequately fund the needs of the city. 19 Council Members recognized that mistake and voted to correct the rate to get the city back on sound footing. That funding problem remains unaddressed regardless of whether Amazon receives their incentives and this needs to be a top priority in the 2019 budget process. However, we do believe that any incentives should follow The Do Better Bill passed last year and we support greater scrutiny of what community benefits are provided to the city when incentives are being considered."