Thanks to ongoing advocacy by SEIU and its members, Metro Government employees in Nashville now receive paid family leave as part of their benefits package.
The new benefit allows Metro Government employees to have approximately six weeks of paid time off upon the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, or child. The benefit is available for employees who have worked for Metro Government for at least 6 months. Employees did not have access to any paid family leave plan prior to passage. No state law in Tennessee or U.S. federal law currently provides for paid family leave.
The new benefit was made possible due to SEIU’s presence and activism on the Mayor’s Council On Gender Equity. The Council serves in an advisory capacity to Mayor Megan Barry and “will assess identified gender inequity issues and develop recommended solutions… that reflects the needs of all”.
Union members James Staub (Nashville Public Library) and Alisa Utley (Emergency Communications Center) were critical in the final stages of the Council’s work by providing testimony about the struggles they face. From the Council’s report:
“…When [James’] wife found out they were expecting twins James began to worry about how he would juggle the needs of a demanding career and the needs of his family. They already had a toddler son at home and the juggling act of two working parents was difficult, before the twins. James knew that his boss would be as helpful as possible but he was concerned because he loved his job and he was good at it but he also wanted to be present in his family responsibilities. He was concerned that he would need to use all of his leave time to care for his family and then heaven forbid if he got sick himself he would be out of time and could therefore face disciplinary action.”
“Alisa’s… mom was diagnosed with late term Leukemia. She was home bound and needed Alisa to take her to all her doctor appointments and treatments. Her Father was blind and had been cared for by her Mother but he too became dependent on Alisa for all of his daily needs. Alisa felt lucky to be able to work the overnight shift so she could care for both of her parents during the day. This went on for 8 years. During that period, the emotional stress of being a good employee and a good daughter was exhausting yet Alisa did it and continues to be a valuable employee to her department today. She says that she wished for flexibility of time so that she could have lessened the toll of caretaking and work.”
This is the end result of advocacy, action, and making politics work in favor of working people. Thanks to James and Alisa for sharing their stories with the Council On Gender Equity so that all Metro employees can enjoy this benefit which not only helps them and their families, but also ensures that the public continues to receive quality service.
The paid family leave benefit is the first item acted upon and passed by the Gender Equity Council. The Council will continue to be active for at least two more years.
SEIU members from dozens of city departments filled the seats during the Metro Council’s Public Hearing on the city budget to make the case that public services and the people who provide them are vital to Nashville’s future.
“Having growth means nothing if regular folks can’t afford to raise a family and take part in the American Dream,” said union steward Tyrone Jolley. “Those are the priorities we need to keep focused on.”
Despite some controversy over the budget request for Nashville General Hospital, the Council voted overwhelmingly to pass the operating budget, pay plan, and other ordinances related to employees that Local 205 supported.
|2017-2018 Budget Highlights:
METRO GOVERMENT Employees
- 2% cost of living raise
- Maintain step raises (2% for those eligible)
- Shift differential increase (70¢/hr for evening shift, 80¢/hr for night shift)
- Fund open-range raises
- Three -year pay plan (2%, 3%, 3%).
- Longevity pay distributed earlier (Nov. 15)
- No cuts to department budgets, several new programs implemented
At the February meeting of the Metro Civil Service Commission, representatives from SEIU Local 205 spoke at the public hearing on a new pay plan being proposed by the Human Resources department. The new pay plan affects thousands of city employees across dozens of General Government departments and was developed as the result of the Deloitte pay study conducted in 2014-2015, which SEIU participated in at several key stages.
The proposed pay plan for Metro General Government employees includes many improvements that Local 205 has been loudly advocating for over the last several years. Among other things, there are real pay increases for thousands of employees in the SR and TG classifications. The Union also supports the reclassification and upgrades for corrections officers at the DCSO and upgrades for 911 staff at the Emergency Communications Center.
One part of the current proposal that SEIU does not support is an expansion of open range classifications across Metro. Based on academic research and from feedback the Union got from Metro employees, adding more open range classifications to the pay plan does not help current employees or improve services to the public. The Union also raised concerns about the methodology of some of Deloitte’s findings in the pay study for the ECC as well as a recent effort by the Health Department to resist upgrades for some of its staff.
Click HERE to see SEIU’s presentation about the proposed Metro pay plan!
“Most of the proposals in this pay plan proposal gets a thumbs-up from our members,” said Brad Rayson, president of Local 205. “Salary increases for the lower pay grades are a long-time coming after the sacrifices city employees made during the Great Recession. But there are still some concerns we would like to see addressed and we hope that the Civil Service Commission takes action on those.”
SEIU had been involved in the pay plan process from the very beginning. Union members across the departments wrote up proposals for certain positions to be reviewed and upgraded and that information was submitted to both Deloitte and to Metro. Many of the Union’s recommendations were supported by the pay study as early as last year when an extra 3% pay increase was implemented for the benchmarked positions. The Union’s bargaining committee and staff representatives met multiple times throughout the development of the pay plan proposals as well and employees have continued to have a pipeline to information and updates on the process through SEIU at monthly chapter meetings and even special called meetings.
The Civil Service Commission will continue to review the pay plan proposal and is expected to vote on some kind of modified proposal at their next meeting on March 8. Whatever is approved by the Commission will then proceed to council as legislation and the new plan could be enacted early enough to take effect as part of this year’s city budget.