NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Clad in purple T-shirts, Metro workers from across varying departments told elected officials they needed help.
As leaders formulate next year's budget, Metro Council opened a public hearing ahead of the budget's May 1 submission to the mayor. As part of that conversation, Local Service Employees International Union members stood at the podium Tuesday as part of the Metro Council meeting. They represented employees from Nashville General Hospital, Metro general government and Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Those Metro employees said as the cost of living goes up, their salaries aren't keeping pace.
"Eighty percent of the people we represent from MNPS make less than $40,000 and that's about 2,300 essential workers — essential workers — who make it possible for schools to be open," Metro Nashville Public Schools support staff employee Lilldeus Honey Hereth said.
Among the speakers was Kate Wingate, an employee with Nashville Public Library.
“You know, it’s a lot to make ends meet and still try to help our kids,” she said.
Wingate's salary will top out at $41,000 after ten years of civil service.
“I see people being squeezed out of Nashville," she said. "I see people who have dedicated their lives to public service — these dedicated civil servants like myself — not being able to live in Nashville."
That's why she and others are asking the city for what they call a "cost of living" raise.
"We’re making it so that the people who run the city can’t live here comfortably,” Wingate said.
She admits the city's pay plan last year helped, but it's still not keeping pace with inflation.
“I think we give a lot of these corporations these tax breaks, and I understand that bringing business is good, but if we’re not also providing affordable housing for the workers, if we’re not providing childcare, if we’re not allowing people to be able to pay for their groceries and their rent and their needs, then who is this benefiting?" Wingate said.