St. Louis Public Radio News
1:56 am
Fri October 10, 2008

Aldermen pass contract for city employees

St. Louis, MO – St. Louis aldermen have approved a one-year contract that gives the city's 4300 civil service employees a 3.5 percent raise.

The deal doesn't include a promotional grid that was in the original contract negotiated between the unions and personnel director Richard Frank. Mayor Francis Slay rejected that deal as too expensive, then proposed his own, leading to accusations that he was trying to circumvent the collective bargaining process. The unions say they are satisfied with the renegotiated deal.

JoAnn Williams of the Carpenter's District Council said the unions understood that the grid required the city to project up to 17 years into the future, a difficult task in this current economy.

"We could not have projected what's going to happen in the next four weeks, we certainly can't project what's going to happen in the next three years. We empathize with that," she said.

The Board passed the pay plan without opposition. But some aldermen expressed concern about the future cost of the deal to the city. Any pay raise also increases the city's pension obligations to those employees. And as 19th Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis pointed out, the city currently has no money in any sort of "rainy day fund".

"Every city employee should get some kind of compensation," she said. "But as I shared with you before, any disaster that happens in this city, we are not equipped to handle it financially at this point. And the financial crisis of this world, this nation, even says that we're in more dire needs than we were just 30 days ago."

Davis wanted her colleagues to start the next budget process much earlier.