After five years with no raises, Pima County workers' paychecks and patience are spread thin.
Nine Pima County employees who are members of the Service Employees International Union spoke to the county Board of Supervisors at the board meeting Tuesday and made their case for pay raises. Other members sat in the audience.
The workers told of declining morale, heavier workloads, high turnover, stagnant or shrinking paychecks, rising bills and trouble affording child care or gas to get to work.
County employees "continue to provide quality service despite our shrinking paychecks," said dietitian Monica Nicholas.
The workers asked for "a significant wage increase" in the next county spending plan.
"I ask that you not look at a raise in terms of the short-term expenditure for the county," said recently retired employee Judith Schneider, "but that you please look at the raise in terms of the long-term investment in county employees and an investment in your community."
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has said employee pay raises are a top priority for his next budget. His salary is $265,000, about $35,000 more than last year.
Supervisor Ray Carroll said the board "listened with great empathy" to the workers' statements.
Workers deserve raises, he said, and he thinks the county can afford a raise, but he's not sure what it will look like.
Board Chairman Ramón Valadez said the county has asked employees to do a lot more in the past five years, and the county hasn't been in a position to give them the pay they deserve.
He said the county can recognize their efforts through fair compensation.
On StarNet: Find a video of Pima County employee Monica Nicholas making a case for pay raises at azstarnet.com/video
DID YOU KNOW?
Pima County is the eighth-largest employer in Southern Arizona, with about 6,170 full-time employees as of early 2012, the Star 200 survey shows.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at email@example.com or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.