At its final meeting of the year, on Dec. 21, Bloomington’s city council approved a change to the salary ordinance that sets pay for city employees next year.
The acronym for the union name stands for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union includes workers in utilities, the street and fleet divisions of public works, parks and recreation, sanitation, and the animal shelter, among others.
It’s AFSCME workers who plow the snow, salt the streets and empty the trash carts that residents set out every week.
Based on a comparison of the new AFSCME contract with the previous four-year agreement , in the first year of the new accord, there’s a pay increase for union members that ranges from 5 percent to about 18 percent, depending on the position. [2023-2026 AFSCME contract] [2019-2022 AFSCME contract]
In the second year of the new contract, the pay increase is 5 percent. In the final two years of the contract, which runs from 2023 through 2026, the pay increase is 3.1 percent.
The city council’s action came on a 9–0 vote taken at its Dec. 21 meeting.
Just one councilmember, Jim Sims, had expressed support for that ordinance during late September deliberations. The straw poll results on that occasion showed five councilmembers voting no and three abstaining.
But on Wednesday, the salary ordinance that sets AFSCME pay for 2023 was adopted on a unanimous vote, with the same pay schedule for those workers as for 2022. When the current ongoing collective bargaining negotiations conclude with an agreement, that salary ordinance is supposed to be amended to reflect a pay increase.
Bloomington deputy mayor, Don Griffin. (Sept. 28, 2022)
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton addresses the city council about the 2023 budget (Sept. 28, 2022)
AFSCME Local 2487 president Bradley Rushton. (Sept. 28, 2022)
“Rather than have a transformative budget, I would like a budget that is fair and equitable to our city employees.”
On Wednesday night, that’s how Bloomington city councilmember Dave Rollo summed up his thoughts on mayor John Hamilton’s proposed 2023 budget.
Rollo’s choice of words was not accidental—Hamilton has pitched his budget as “transformative.”
There’s no question the dollar figure is bigger. Hamilton’s $129.4-million budget proposed for 2023 is $22.4 million more than last year, fueled by $16 million in additional revenue from a 0.69-point increase in the local income tax.
Rollo and several of his city council colleagues don’t think the proposed 5-percent increase in employee base compensation is enough to retain and recruit city employees.
The rate of inflation measured between December 2020 and December 2021 was 7.5 percent. From August 2021 to August 2022, it was 8.1 percent.
Faced with high inflation many city employees are leaving for better-paying jobs. From August 2021 through July of 2022, 122 city employees have left the city for one reason or another. That’s 35 percent more than the 90 employees who left the year before.
And it’s in the neighborhood of double the 66 departures from August 2019 to July 2022 and the 69 departures in the year before that. Of the 42 employees who have completed an exit survey this year, 19 have said their new position offers a higher salary.
From left, Bloomington city councilmembers: Sue Sgambelluri, Susan Sandberg, Dave Rollo, Matt Flaherty, Ron Smith and Isabel Piedmont-Smith.
AFSCME member Stephen French.
AFSCME members who attended the Aug. 3, 2022 meeting of the city council.
AFSCME member Steven Robertson.
AFSCME Local 2487 president Bradley Rushton.
Councilmember Dave Rollo (right) speaks with AFSCME members after the Bloomington city council’s Aug. 4, 2022 meeting.
About two dozen AFSCME members attended the Bloomington city council’s Aug. 4, 2022 meeting.
A couple dozen members of the AFSCME Local 2487 attended Bloomington’s Wednesday city council meeting, to highlight for councilmembers their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with mayor John Hamilton’s administration—without getting into details of those talks.
As Local 2487 president Bradley Rushton put it, “I cannot discuss any aspect of the current state of affairs between the union and the city reps.”
But union members are looking for better compensation than their current four-year contract gives them. The current labor agreement runs through the end of 2022.
The acronym for the union name stands for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union includes workers in utilities, the street and fleet divisions of public works, parks and recreation, sanitation, and the animal shelter, among others. Rushton serves the city as a fleet maintenance master technician.
Rushton led off his remarks during public commentary with a word of thanks to the city council for supporting the police union in their efforts to negotiate better compensation. In September last year, the city council passed a resolution supporting more money for police officers.
The police union is on the same four-year contractual cycle as the AFSCME workers. Earlier this year, in mid-May, the city council approved a contract with police officers that started with a 13-percent increase in the first year.
The city’s policy requires employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or get tested weekly for an infection. If any employee does not show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly, then under the policy, they will be “removed from the workplace until they provide a test result.”
Absences caused by failure to comply with the vax-or-test policy will necessarily mean lost income. The policy states: “They will not be allowed to use benefit time to cover their absences; the absence will be unpaid.”
On Saturday morning through mid-day, a dozen or so members of the city’s AFSCME local, including some workers in the public works and utilities departments, demonstrated on the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington against the city’s vax-or-test policy. They held signs with slogans like, “Please Don’t Abuse Loyal Employees” and “Keep Compassion in Fashion”