Alexandria’s police, fire and sheriff’s offices are asking the City Council for a raise.
The city imposed a pay and hiring freeze during the pandemic, and after more than a year of operating under a City Emergency, all city and state employees got a 1% bonus and merit increases were restored with the passage of the fiscal year 2022 budget.
It wasn’t enough.
The Alexandria Police Department and Fire Department are among the lowest paid in the region, with full-time starting salaries at $$49,294 for firefighters and $51,000 for police officers.
The presidents of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Association, the local 5 chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Union of Police Associations want a 1.5% merit pay increase, instead of the 1% that all city employees received in the approved FY22 budget. They said that the city saved $6 million with the hiring freeze, and that hundreds of jobs were left vacant.
“The workload was instead picked up by other dedicated City employees so as to maintain seamless service to Alexandria’s residents and visitors,” the trio wrote in the July 8 letter to Council. “This added work caused burn-out and lowered morale as employees took on additional responsibilities.”
Mayor Justin Wilson has asked City Manager Mark Jinks to provide an update on the city’s regional comparisons to determine necessary adjustments to “remain competitive.”
Salaries are a collective bargaining issue, and earlier this year Council unanimously adopted a collective bargaining ordinance. In other words, the unions are expected to reach a collective bargaining agreement before making asks of Council.
“In a future collective bargaining environment, we will have multi-year collective bargaining agreements that dictate what raises (as well as many other things) will look like,” Wilson said. “But we’re not there yet.”
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