After Mayor Dean requested city department heads to submit budget proposals that included possible scenarios for budget cuts, SEIU members sprang into action to educate politicians and the public on the value of public services and the people who provide them.
Union members attended departmental budget meetings at the courthouse and made phone calls to their council members. In the run-up to the vote on the budget, SEIU members met with council members in several sessions to talk to them about the love they have for public service as well as the struggles they face. They also educated the council about the value and importance of a strong employee benefit system that rewards loyalty and service to the public.
In June, at the public hearing on the budget, which was broadcast live on Channel 3 and YouTube, SEIU members told their stories about what they do for a living and how important their work is to the public. In an ironic twist, union members were some of the only people who spoke in favor of Mayor Dean’s proposed budget this year.
Thanks in no small part to the strategic and consistent activity by members of Local 205, the budget passed and with it came several improvements for city employees, including:
- All city employees received a 2.5% cost of living (COLA) raise.
- Employees who were eligible for increment (“step”) raises received them, which represents an increase of between 1-3%.
- Employees classified as “open range” received between 0-3%.
- Eligible employees in the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office received compression pay.
“I am so proud of my brothers and sisters for their hard work and persistence,” says Antonio McKissack, the chief steward of the Metro chapter who works for Metro Water Services. “There were a lot of challenges we had this year in Metro and the last thing we needed was to see major budget cuts or no raises. But our stewards and activists rose to the challenge and worked hard to protect their departments and get good raises for all city employees.”