Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg, union reach agreement on wages, but bigger fight looms

ST. PETERSBURG — A compromise reached Tuesday between the city and the union covering the bulk of its workers has left both sides dissatisfied with the current system, setting the stage for an epic labor battle next year.

For now, both sides agreed to a 2 percent across-the-board increase with another 2 percent raise kicking in on the employee's work anniversary.

The wage package will cost about $1.4 million. Mayor Rick Kriseman had proposed a 3 percent increase, which was approved by the City Council for this year's budget.

Despite that 4 percent raise, however, the new agreement doesn't cost more than what's already been approved. That's because while Kriseman's 3 percent pay increase was all at once, the new agreement pins half the 4 percent raise to anniversaries, so they are spread throughout the year.

Also of note: about 560 part-time workers will be able to access the city's health care clinics. Many of those workers don't have insurance because they make too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid and they don't earn enough to qualify for subsidies under Obamacare.

The union rank and file is expected to ratify the agreement in early December. The City Council will consider it later that month.

Union officials greeted the tentative agreement as a big win.

"Kudos to the mayor. This is what happens when progressive forces work together," said Rick Smith, the union's chief of staff.

The administration wasn't quite as ebullient in its comments.

"The mayor is proud of our city team at the negotiating table. It sounds like they did a good job. We look forward to the next steps," Kriseman spokesman Ben Kirby said.

At issue is the union's desire to keep automatic raises, which Kriseman wanted to eliminate. Basically, this agreement keeps the current system in place until Sept. 30, 2016, when a new framework is negotiated.

While this agreement keeps the steps for at least one more year, city negotiators say they want to change the system to link raises to performance rather than make them automatic.

"We want to reward good employees rather than those who are just getting by," said Chris Guella, the city's human resources director.

Smith has other ideas. The union official is excited by the prospect of tying worker raises to property tax collections. For example, if tax revenue rises by 8 percent, workers would receive a 4 percent raise, he said.

If the union is successful in linking the two, it would be a first for Florida and maybe nationally, Smith said.

Guella, however, wondered what would happen if property tax revenue dropped.

"Are they going to take pay cuts?" he said.

An annual cost-of-living increase might a way to reach an accord on that point, Smith said.

"That's going to be a big issue," Guella said. "We're going to need to get back to the table soon."

Contact Charlie Frago at or (727) 893-8459. Follow@CharlieFrago.

St. Petersburg, union reach agreement on wages, but bigger fight looms 11/10/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 8:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The #BrooklynCow delighted Twitter for one glorious afternoon


    In the long tradition of social media delighting in news reports of a non-native animal running loose in an urban setting, Twitter, for a few blissful hours this afternoon, turned its collective attention to #BrooklynCow, a bull that escaped a slaughterhouse and began roaming free near New York's Prospect …

    A bull was on the loose in Brooklyn for a little while on Tuesday afternoon.
  2. Pinellas, Hillsborough to share notes on


    What is this, a crossover episode?

    Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins did make an appearance at the Pinellas County School Board workshop Tuesday in a first public move to establish an official partnerships between the two districts.

    Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins (center) and Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego discuss a new partnership between the two districts at a Pinellas County School Board workshop Tuesday in Largo.
  3. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  4. Marine colonel on temporary duty at CentCom arrested in Polk prostitution sting


    A Marine colonel on temporary duty at U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base was among nearly 300 people arrested in a Polk County Sheriff's Office prostitution and human trafficking sting.

    Marine Col. Kevin Scott, 51, was arrested in a Polk County prostitution sting on Oct. 14. Scott, on temporary duty at U.S. Central Command, was charged with a misdemeanor county of soliciting a prostitute. He was released on $500 bond. Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
  5. Key senators reach bipartisan health-care subsidy deal, and Trump expresses support

    WASHINGTON - A pair of leading Republican and Democratic senators reached an agreement Tuesday to fund key federal health-care subsidies that President Donald Trump ended last week - and the president expressed support for the plan.

    President Donald Trump sits for a radio interview in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) DCSW104