TSEA to petition election candidates for a pay increase
Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 8:01 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — The head of the Tennessee State Employees Association said Tuesday that the group will turn to election candidates to get a 7 percent pay increase after learning they won’t receive a one-time pay supplement that officials promised.
Robert O’Connell told The Associated Press before a news conference that the announcement by state Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz last week was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” because state employees “have not had a raise of any kind in three years.”
“In that time the cost of living alone has gone up nearly seven percent,” O’Connell said. “Year after year the administration and Legislature have put state employees last. Enough is enough. It is time for state employees to come first when the budget is written and adopted.”
Following the news conference, O’Connell told reporters he believes a seven percent pay increase is possible because tax collections seem to be steadily improving.
“In about April of last year, collections began to improve and they’re continuing to improve,” he said. “The improving collections is what gives us the hope that the Legislature will look at it and see that the money is coming in.”
O’Connell acknowledged Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s initial budget included a three percent one-time bonus for state employees before legislative leaders removed it. But he said a one-time bonus of any sort is just not an enough.
“You go out and pay for your groceries with a bonus,” O’Connell said. “We need a seven percent pay increase that raises everybody’s salary on a permanent basis.”
About 30 of state employees attended the news conference and just about each one had a sign with slogans that included: “It’s Time! Make Us a Priority,” or “State Employees Back of the Line Again.”
State employee Richard McHone has worked for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for 33 years; his wife 35 years. He believes state officials could have found enough money to give a one-time bonus.
“We work as hard as we can to serve the people of this state,” McHone said. “All we ask in return, is for a decent day’s pay for a day’s work.”
Published in The Messenger 10.06.10