St. Pete union employees to get a minimum wage raise

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Many Florida Public Service Union employees are poised to get a pay bump next year. That’s thanks to a tentative agreement between St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and Rick Smith, the chief negotiator for the union. The agreement would extend Kriseman’s living-wage initiative to union employees. Full-time employees and part-time employees with at least five years on the job would earn a minimum of $12.50 an hour. The agreement would also include merit increases of two percent to employees at the top of the pay scale.

“I am pleased we could reach an agreement with the union on terms that will help those who serve the citizens of St. Petersburg every day. This agreement demonstrates the City’s commitment to our employees that this will be a City of opportunity while maintaining our high level of fiscal accountability to our citizens,” Kriseman said.

The move will cost the city about $750,000, but the expense is accounted for within the city’s 2015 budget for pay raises.

Negotiations for the raises began in June. The current pay agreement expires in September, 2015. If approved, the new agreement with increased minimum wage will be in effect until September 2017 with the option to renegotiate as early as 2016.

“This is a great example of what solid teamwork can do to elevate our City and enhance quality of life for our employees who do great work for us. I thank our staff who took the lead on these negotiations and the leadership of the union as well,” Kriseman said.

Both union members and city council members must ratify the agreement before it is final. That move is expected this month.

“The City and the members and leadership of the Union not only significantly raised the standards of living for many families with the minimum wage increase, but also have set the table for continued advances for all as we struggle to re-enter the middle class. The Mayor has set an example for the entire City about the rightness of a decent wage and the positive impact that will have on our communities,” Smith said.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email