Mayor Barrett signs residency-based employee wage increase

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- After four years of waiting, Milwaukee city employees can look forward to bigger paychecks.  Mayor Tom Barrett approved a 1.5 percent pay increase Monday, but only for employees who live in the city.

"What we have done is monetize what we believe is a powerful incentive," Barrett said.  "And that is to remain in the city while you serve the city."

But employees like Amos Ferguson, who works for the Department of Public Works, don't necessarily agree with that rule.
 

"I believe everybody should be able to get the same treatment," Ferguson said.  "They should be included to get that pay raise as well.  I don't think there should be any restrictions on them not getting it."

Eigth District Alderman Bob Donovan voted against the measure, saying it doesn't do enough for the blue collar workers.

"The cost of milk and eggs and gas is the same for someone making $30,000 as it is for someone making $100,000," Donovan said.

Meanwhile nearly half of all city workers - police and firefighters - can still collectively bargain.  They'll likely see a much larger increase, whether they live in Milwaukee or not.

"The representatives for those unions feel immune to what's happening with these individuals," Barrett said.

Milwaukee Police Association president Mike Crivello thinks the city should take a different approach.  He released a statement saying:

"Focus on safe streets, great schools and infrastructure... Residents will stay and new families would be excited to move here... There is no need to force good families to live in a great city."

Alderman Donovan sees it the same way.

"How about we roll up our sleeves and fix it?  So that anyone would be a damn fool to want to move out of Milwaukee," Donovan said.  That's the kind of city we should have."

The mayor says elected officals, like himself, will not get this raise.  Employees will still need to take three required furlough days.

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