'We're losing people...we're overworked': Milwaukee DPW employees speak out about pay, workload

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wednesday's Finance and Personnel Committee meeting had a bigger audience than expected. A handful of public works department employees took the day off to sit in as a response to their pay and workload. 

The meeting shed light on Milwaukee's salary issues and struggle to recruit employees in a number of departments. 

"We're not keeping up with our ability to compensate our employees compared to our competitors, and just for employees watching, I'm telling you, unless we get relief from the state of Wisconsin, it's not a bright future," said Mike Murphy, the committee chair. 

About a dozen employees from various DPW departments organized a sit-in. 

"We're losing people, we're tired, we're overworked, we're over-burned," said Jeff Smith, an employee with Milwaukee's Water Works division. 

Smith said they want their presence to be heard. Employees from Milwaukee's sewage department and sanitation services were also in attendance. 

"Do a fair market analysis of our job titles and appreciate that we are a skilled trades and that we are actually doing the work," said Smith. 

Smith says Water Works employees don't feel like they have someone to advocate for them, so he's taking on that role. During his last five years with the city he's received about a $1 dollar raise in total.

"Other cities and other municipalities are paying their workers, and we're losing people. We're tired," said Smith.

However, leaving Milwaukee isn't on his mind. He just wants the city to do right by its citizens. 

Alderman Mike Murphy, the committee chair, agreed at Wednesday's meeting, but he says that a better wage will come with a cost. 

"Hopefully we can do things like this, increase compensation, but you end up having fewer employees, that's the other factor -- because you can't do both," said Murphy. 

We reached out to the mayors office, but no one was available to comment this afternoon. 




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