- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Thousands of Baton Rouge governmental employees are about to get a pay raise.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1EGtC6K) the Metro Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a pay plan that revamps the pay scale structure, providing some modest increases for all city-parish employees, including firefighters and city police.

The raises will go into effect the first pay period in April, and the retirement plans change July 1.

Employees and their unions have lobbied for raises for the past few years, lamenting that they are dramatically underpaid when compared to industry peers.

For months, union leaders have been at odds with city-parish staff as they negotiated the terms of a pay plan. Employees wanted more money, but the Mayor’s Office said significant raises would have to be coupled with cuts to benefits like sick days and retirement changes.

The final plan was a compromise, and won official approval from the unions. However, employees and Metro Council members noted they were not entirely thrilled by the deal.

The new pay plan gives employees across-the-board raises of at least 2 percent or $500, whichever is greater. It also raises minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to either $9.30 an hour or $9.65 an hour depending on the job.

“Hopefully we can get a better percent next time. This is not something we’re going to leave alone,” said public works employee Herman Addison. “We’re willing to take the 2 percent but we’re not satisfied.”

The pay changes will cost $4.9 million this year because they will be in effect for only nine months, but they will cost $6.6 million annually in the future. A little less than half of the money is expected to come from existing funds in the budget, while the other slightly larger piece will come from new appropriations.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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