• Public safety unions urge city for pay raises


    ATLANTA - For the first time ever, three different Atlanta city employee unions joined forces to demand a pay raise in the 2014 budget.

    Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed delivered his budget proposal last week.

    The mayor's office confirmed the budget does not include pay raises for city workers, police officers and firefighters; however another administration official said Wednesday that Reed is committed to giving some kind of pay increase. His administration is waiting to meet with the different unions to hash out how much.

    Union members from Atlanta police, Atlanta Fire Rescue and general city workers rallied on the steps of City Hall Wednesday afternoon before heading inside to attend a city council budget hearing.

    "We're out here showing the solidarity of us standing together as the city employees look for these pay raises," said Ken Allen of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. "We want 5 percent this year and a commitment to 5 percent over the next three to five years."

    Many union members said they sacrificed pension and health benefits when the city endured its own financial crisis during the Great Recession. Now, they feel the crisis is over, and it's time for the mayor to give them raises.

    "We weathered the storm. We battened down the hatches. We knew it was going to get bad," said Stephen Borders of the Firefighters' Union. "As we come through the other side of it, we expect the city keep up its end of the bargain and start repairing the ship before it sinks."

    Reed's office said the $539 million proposed budget improves public safety and helps restore financial stability without raising property taxes. A budget must be approved by July 1.

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