Longevity pay, bonuses for Metro workers cut from budget

Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 3:28am

If Mayor Karl Dean’s $1.5 billion operating budget is altered by Metro Council later this month, it is likely to be on the issue of longevity pay for Metro workers.

Dean submitted a budget including the suspension of longevity and perfect attendance bonuses for Metro workers. The total savings for suspending the bonuses was listed as $3.1 million.

The current longevity pay structure has been in place since 2001. It provides bonuses ranging from $100 to $1,000 to employees with more than five years of Metro service.

With revenues down $28 million for the first time in the history of Metro government, Dean was forced to submit an operating budget including significant cuts. Virtually every department had its budget reduced by 10 percent.

The revenue shortfall has made it difficult for Council to make any alterations, at-large Councilman Ronnie Steine said.

“I’m not sure there is much room for movement,” Steine said. “If consensus is building, it would be about trying to do something about longevity pay.”

The elimination of longevity bonuses was sharply criticized by Nashville labor groups like the Service Employees International Union local 205, the Fraternal Order of Police and the local firefighters union.

Dean’s budget proposal was on public hearing at Tuesday’s Council meeting. Unlike last year when members of the public criticized cuts to the Metro Transit Authority, the proposal received few critiques. The pushback came on the reduction in the subsidy provided to the Hospital Authority and on the elimination of the longevity bonuses.

SEIU local 205 president Doug Collier said the workers deserved their bonuses.

The Dean administration said throughout the budget process it was faced with the difficult choice of laying off workers or administering pay freezes. Finance Director Richard Riebeling pointed out private corporations were instituting layoffs, furloughs and pay freezes as well.

Former Mayor Bill Purcell's administration attempted to cut longevity pay several years ago, but Metro Council members restored the bonuses many employees depend on as part of their annual salary.

Steine said that may be the case this year too. He said Council could find room to at least return a portion of the longevity bonuses.

“It might be difficult to replace the entire $3 million, but you are talking about looking at a percentage at least,” Steine said.

The budget proposal will be on third and final reading at the June 16 Council meeting.

8 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 6/4/09 at 3:09

"Longevity Bonuses" given to mostly government employees are such a
joke to the world of free enterprise. They mean you showed up for another year, not that you learned anything new or did a better job than say 15 years back. The council wants it both ways: Cut nothing, especially from pay or dropping some jobs, but let us stand up and stated to the cameras we don't want a tax increase. We could, of course, drop more subsidies the citizens are paying for and have funds for the bonuses.

By: ron302 on 6/4/09 at 4:22

I have never had one of those government jobs. I worked for one private company for nearly 30 years. I have now worked at another private company for over 13 years. At no time was I given a “Longevity Bonus”. My "Longevity Bonus" was my pay check. If I work, I get paid. If I don't work, I don't get paid.

Metro employees need to wake up and smell the roses.

I would like to have one of those Metro jobs where I get to drive a tax payer paid for car and put tax payer paid for gas in. Sure would save me a great deal of money. I have to buy my car and pay for the gas that goes in it.

Suck it up Metro and join the real world.

By: michael thomas on 6/4/09 at 5:39

Well ron302 i happen to be one of those that work for metro and i am a support worker and have been with metro for 12 years. I have not seen or even heard of longevity pay from this position. I have a guy working with me that has been with metro over 25 years and he is topped out. He does not get a step raise and now that they have put a freeze on raises he makes less than i do by $1.32. So where is the big incentive. And you also said that you purchased your car and buy gas for it, i also do the same. I would recommend that you get the proper info before you speak. Not everyone falls in the category of living off tax payers that work for metro. HAVE A GREAT DAY ANYWAY!

By: Kosh III on 6/4/09 at 6:13

Unlike private businesses, government employees get few if any raises, merit or otherwise. That is why there is longevity pay, to compensate at least partially for the lack of raises. Even when there may be a raise, it is less than the rise in the cost of living.

Why so much hatred of government employees? I'll bet you don't hate the cops in person and only hate them when you can hide behind your mama's computer.

By: starcruiser100 on 6/4/09 at 7:25

I worked for Metro over 25 years and never received a bonus of any kind. I'm curious who is getting these bonuses?
My pay was my only compensation. I loved my job and performed it well.
If Metro employees were all residents of Davidson County I believe they'd have a stake in the success of the schools and the government. So very many of the higher-paid employees of Metro Schools live outside the county, it's hard to believe that they have a heart for the city as residents do. It gives the impression that if their paycheck was not there and they could afford it, they'd stay home.
I loved my work and would have come in anyway. The children are the reason.

By: pandabear on 6/4/09 at 7:32

Who cares ?

This Deano idiot just signed away $75 Million dollars toward
a Billion + dollars convention center that won't even come
close to even paying for itself, and will leave the taxpayers of
Nashville and their children in debt for decades to come.

Karl Dean is a lying manipulator and is presently trying to
divert your attention with this "savings of 3.1 million" joke.

By: pandabear on 6/4/09 at 7:36

Look, guys, the best thing you can do
is vote this turkey out of office at the first opportunity.

By: Tall_Fella on 6/4/09 at 9:28

As Metro employee who's about to undergo a 100% pay-cut (i.e. layoff), the rest of these whiners are lucky to have their jobs at current pay, let alone any "longevity bonuses." Just putting things in perspective! ; )