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Birmingham approves updated labor agreements

By Kevin Elliott


Birmingham City Commissioners approved contract agreements and wage adjustments for about 75 employees on Monday, November 8, including some public services employees, as well as for administration and management.


Birmingham Human Resources Manager Joseph Lambert said Teamsters Local 214 represents about 27 laborers, primarily in the city’s department of public works. Those employees had been operating under an expired agreement since June 30, 2021. Lambert said the new agreement includes some modest increases, primarily to retain and attract laborers.


Key agreements include a two percent wage increase in each year of the contract; the additional holiday observance of Martin Luther King Jr., Day; increases in employee cost sharing for prescription coverage; flexibility improvements to recruitment and overtime; and modest improvements in other minor economic provisions. The contract expires on June 30, 2023.


Commissioners unanimously approved the contract.


City commissioners also approved a 2.5 percent wage increase for department heads and administrative/management employees. Lambert said the increase is a half percent higher than traditional increases, but well below the 4.7 percent increase in inflation since February 2020.


Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus recommended approving the wage increase.


“I would say it’s hard for the commission to know the constant problems we deal with internally because of shortages in staff,” he said. “Also, we have a young staff and there is a learning curve with the change in personnel coming in. Strategically now, and probably always we should have, we can always look inside, but in a place like Birmingham, you would expect to attract a high number of high quality individuals, and that’s not what is happening at the moment, especially in the technical skills area.”


Birmingham resident Paul Regan agreed with the recommendation.


“The half percent is a nice gesture, but it won’t affect recruitment,” he said. “If you can’t offer the ability to work from home to a significant degree, you won’t be able to attract applicants. It’s a deal breaker.”


Commissioners unanimously approved the wage increases, which will include about 35 employees.

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