ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Years of stalled negotiations between AFSCME and the city of Albuquerque, have led a frustrated mayor to take unilateral action.
Friday, Mayor R.J. Berry announced the city was unilaterally imposing the offer it had on the table for about 2,100 city employees, including giving them a long-awaited three percent pay hike.
“Quite frankly we’ve got a couple of folks standing in the way of 2,100 people and their raise,” Berry said. “So, we’re just going to bypass that. And we think we have the legal right to do that.”
That raise will amount to about $1,500 a year on average.
But the move drew sharp opposition from AFSCME reps, who say the city’s unilateral move is simply illegal.
While the three percent pay raise was fine with both sides, AFSCME says the city’s terms hurt workers, including changes to the promotions process and a requirement that employees to give up part of their vacation time to pay for union work.
“The city is basically saying we’re going to put a foot on your neck and you’re going to accept the rights that we give you,” said Rocky Gutierrez with AFSCME. “There’s a process for negotiations that includes both parties.”
Gutierrez says the union will take the city to court over the issue.
Similar impasses with other city unions including police and fire unions have already been settled.
The raises cost less than $3 million and the Albuquerque City Council has already set aside that money.
The city says workers should see that raise in their Sept. 26 paychecks.