Hope remains. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and union representatives emerged from a last-minute meeting concerning hotly disputed pay increases for the city's first-responders and other workers with renewed hope of reaching an acceptable resolution.
"He loosened up as the meeting went on," said Gina Pagnotta-Murphy, president of the PACE union. "We were able to move the rock a little bit. I'm very ... I'm pleased right now."
Mayor Reed said, "Yes, they have detailed proposals and I'm going to listen to them and we're going to try to get there. I have some ideas about how we may be able to spread out a raise over two years as opposed to one; but, at least some employees would have a sense of where they're going."
Even as both sides came to the table, Mayor Reed covered some math regarding the city's financial standings. He said over five years, general fund revenues have actually dropped about $100 million.
The mayor said one possible resolution may include less gain for Atlanta's first-responders and general employees on the front end for 2013, while building toward a bigger payoff in the long-term.
Earlier Friday, numerous city employees and their wives took to the streets with their voices and signs raised in a public demonstration aimed at pressuring Mayor Reed and the Atlanta City Council into pay raise negotiations.
"We are the first responders," said Lagina Hubbard, a 911 communications supervisor. "If no one picks up that call when you dial 911, you don't get service."
This isn't the first time workers and their families have demonstrated on the issue of pay raises. In the last two weeks, they've made their case in front of Atlanta City Hall several times, calling for pay increases for the city's first responders. They say the workers are forced to work extra jobs to make ends meet, which leaves little time for family.
The group of wives and family members also raised funds to put up billboards indicating that first responders are the last to get paid.
Mayor Kasim Reed has designated a 1 percent pay raise for public safety, but the group wants raises closer to 5 percent.
Reed wants to give non-public safety, like garbage pickup and water workers, a 3 percent increase. It's to make up for the earlier, unequal pay raise during the first year. FOX 5's Morse Diggs notes that the year after the workers were given the 3.5 percent raise, workers gave back essentially 5 percent to help the city with pension contributions.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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