St. Petersburg and union reach tentative deal on wages

Published Dec. 2, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — City and union negotiators have reached a tentative deal for a multiyear contract covering about 1,300 blue- and white-collar workers, city officials announced Monday.

The breakthrough came after months of talks that appeared to stall last month over a proposal by Mayor Rick Kriseman to eliminate automatic pay increases for union employees. The contract approved Monday keeps the step program in place for at least a year and contains at least a 2 percent raise for union workers.

The agreement allows for negotiations to be reopened next year, but would be in effect until September 2017.

Both sides made compromises. Last month, the union asked for 2.5 percent raises and future raises tied to property-tax gains. City officials wanted to move away from automatic pay raises and implement a merit-based raise system for blue-collar workers.

The deal also extends Kriseman's $12.50 living-wage proposal as a minimum starting wage for union employees and regular part-time employees with at least five years on the job.

Kriseman, on a trade mission to Chile with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, issued a statement saying the agreement demonstrated the city's commitment to its workers while protecting taxpayers.

"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," Kriseman said.

Rick Smith, chief of staff for the Florida Public Services Union/SEIU, also praised the deal, saying it lays a framework for future gains.

"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 in a statement.

The City Council and the union are expected to vote on the proposal this month.

Police, firefighters and those not in the union have already received 2 percent raises.