State workers negotiating for pay raise

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 8, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — State workers joined union representatives in a sit-down with the state negotiation team Friday. The workers say they haven't had a significant salary increase in two years.

State workers told WCTV they're tired of going through this bargaining process every few years. They say they need, and deserve, an increase in salary.

Many employees say they are working tow to three jobs in order for their families to survive.

"The state workers are the backbone of this state," Vicki Hall, a State Workers Union official, says. "It's time to just say 'Okay' and walk from the table. We're going to fight for this one."

The union asked state negotiators for a 5% across-the-board pay raise.

Ketha Otis says she was a single mother for many of the 39 years she worked for the State of Florida. Medical bills from her son's heart condition added to her family's financial struggles.

"Dealing with making choices about what bills to pay this month, what services you need to cut out," she says. "When you don't receive those pay raises to combat with the cost of living, that's very impactful."

Of the more than 46,000 state employees, about 87% of them make less than $47,000.

Tallahassee resident Rasheeda Fryson has worked for the state for 16 years. She says she's one of the lowest paid workers in her bureau.

"It makes me feel sad because I went to school," she says. "I have a master's degree. I feel like all my hard work is not paying off."

Reports show more than 850 state employees qualify for public assistance.

"We have a lot of duties, but not the money to meet the duties that we do," Tallulah Thomas says.

The state negotiating team did not comment on Friday's session.

"Why would they have to continue to come and beg for a dollar, or beg for a percent, just to try and make ends meet?" Hall says.

The two sides will set a date to discuss the matter again. If they don't come to an agreement by the time the governor announces the state budget on December 14, they will be at an impasse.

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