Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

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 [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. [email protected]

Comments
Billy Graham had pride and regret on civil rights issues

Billy Graham had pride and regret on civil rights issues

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Rev. Billy Graham was single-minded when he preached about God, prefacing sermon points with the phrase "The Bible says ..." Yet he had a complicated role in race relations, particularly when confronting segregation in his nati...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The death toll rose to at least five on Sunday after severe thunderstorms swept through the central U.S., spawning a tornado that flattened homes, gale force winds and widespread flooding from the Upper Midwest to Appalachia.The s...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’ will be released in November

Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’ will be released in November

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s first book post-White House will be a memoir titled "Becoming" that will hit book shelves on November 13."Becoming," which publishing company Penguin Random House called "unusually intimate" in a news release Sunday...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

CHICAGO — Dana Loesch is the new public face of the National Rifle Association, an organization long associated with older white men. At 39, she’s poised, photogenic and a skilled public speaker, yet she’s not softening the message of the NRA as it b...
Updated: 22 minutes ago

Updated: 25 minutes ago
Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

A hit-and-run crash has left a Tampa man dead, his female passenger in critical condition and law enforcement in search of the man who was driving the vehicle that struck them from behind.A Nissan Sentra was traveling north in the inside lane of U.S....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Meet the aptly named Friend of Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend

Meet the aptly named Friend of Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend

TAMPA — Runners in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic know The Voice. Year after year, it comes back to them like home. They hear her before they see her as they head up or back on Bayshore Boulevard. The Voice makes them feel part of somet...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

A Bradenton man died on Interstate 75 in Sumter County on Sunday after falling through a hole that opened in the cabin of a recreational vehicle when it collided with a guardrail, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The man, whose name was not im...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gasparilla Distance Classic: A day (or two) at the races

Gasparilla Distance Classic: A day (or two) at the races

Meet the various people who take in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic race weekend, whether on the sidelines or pounding the pavement.Woman's best friendAt about the one hour, 45-minute mark of Saturday's 15K, an Australian shepherd wearing a se...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Riverview woman dies in Friday car crash

A woman died Friday when her car collided with another vehicle on U.S. 301 in Riverview, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Melanie Hoitt, 38, of Riverview was driving a Nissan Altima north on U.S. 301 approaching Southern Pointe Boulevard short...
Updated: 2 hours ago