Small Victory for Memphis Sanitation Workers

Small Victory for Memphis Sanitation Workers

There was a small victory for the union that represents the sanitation workers, but it will be a long time before any city employees could see their salaries restored.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis sanitation workers want their money. The city took $1.4 million away from them two years ago. There was a small victory for the union that represents the sanitation workers, but it will be a long time before any city employees could see their salaries restored.

A city council contract impasse committee voted against Mayor A C Wharton's administration’s budget and approved restoring the 4.6 percent pay cut for sanitation workers, but it doesn't end there.

"It's frustrating and I’m angry because it's gone on for so long,” said sanitation worker Cynthia Hart.

Hart has been driving trucks and keeping the city clean for more than a decade. She wants the city to restore what she says is rightfully hers.

"Actually I need my 2.3 go to my retirement plan and my 2.3 percent go back on my paycheck," said Hart.

AFSCME Local 1733 represents more than 900 sanitation workers.

"The entire AFSCME employees payroll accounts for less than .0023 percent of the city budget," said AFSCME Executive Director Chad Johnson.

The city's proposal is to restore only half of the salary cuts, 2.3 percent, but that's not good enough for these workers.

"We work here, we spend our money here, and we live here. So why are we being punished?” asked sanitation worker and AFSCME Chapter Chairman Keith Johnson.

Robert Cleveland has been picking up trash for the city for more than 40 years and wants what is due to him.

"Look at my feet, they’re bad, I got one lung, and I'm just here trying to make it. I don’t think it's right what they're doing,” he said.

Three city council members had to vote on either the union or the mayor's budget proposals. Councilmen Boyd and Morrison abstained; Lee Harris voted for the union's budget, but it's not a done deal.

"We'll have other opportunities to discuss this with the whole city council, if someone wants to make an objection it could be brought back,” said Councilman Bill Boyd.

If the city would restore the 4.6 pay cuts across the board, it would be more than $14 million back into the city employees' pockets. Mayor Wharton says the city can only give city employees about $3.5 million.
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