EBR workers seek higher pay
BATON ROUGE - City-parish workers called Thursday for Mayor-President Kip Holden to increase their wages in next year's budget.
Herman Addison has worked for the city-parish for the past 13 years. He planned on working for the city for 20 years and then retire. Addison says he hasn't received a raise in 8 years, and has to work two jobs to support his family like many of his co-workers.
"We have a lot of time invested in the city, and it's too much invested time in the city to just walk away from it," he said. "It's real tough. You know you got to watch every dollar that you spend, and when you spend a dollar you got to know where you're going to replace that dollar."
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) represents Addison and other city workers. The local union president Helene O'Brien says Baton Rouge doesn't rank well compared to similar cities around the region in multiple pay studies.
"The workers have basically said this has got to happen this year. We think it's going to take a longer time to address everyone's raises and get them to where they need to be, but we believe it's a plan that needs to happen and start in the 2014 budget," said O'Brien.
But the city-parish says raises won't happen in 2014, because there's no money to do so.
"I don't think next year's budget is within the realm of possibility," District 12 Councilman John Delgado told News 2. "What you have to do is, you have to have the conversation about salaries but you cannot separate that conversation with benefits. It's only once we can get our benefits packages in line with what the rest of the country's doing, then we can raise our salaries to be commensurate with the rest of the country."
Addison said while city workers' morale is low, they still have work to do.
"I'm a dedicated worker, and I have to work to take care of my family. So even though times are hard and the pay is low, I still have to go to work," he said.
The Metro Council voted to do its own pay study nearly two years ago. It has not been officially presented to the council yet.