NEW BEDFORD- A pay increase won’t be coming anytime soon for city workers.

A motion to adopt a new contract for those employed by the City of New Bedford, proposed by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was not passed by City Council during session Thursday night.

The new contract, if passed, would have raised the wages of the lowest paid city workers by five-percent over three years. The contract also proposed to raise the minimum starting hourly wage in the city from the current $12.23 to $13.57 in the 2017 fiscal year. For an employee starting at the lowest pay grade, this would equate to at least $2,787.00 in increased pay for the year.

The motion was met with scrutiny from City Councilors, most notably from Council Vice President Linda Morad, who ranted about what she feels is a meaningless raise in pay proposed by AFSCME for workers vital to daily city life.

“It breaks my heart when I’m standing in a super market line and I see a fellow city employee who cant pay for groceries in that line, based on the salary they get from the City of New Bedford” Morad said.

“If anybody on this council thinks that raising those wages by five-percent over three years is a good contract, they’re crazy.”

AFSCME began negotiating the wages following the 2016 State of the City Address last March, when Mayor Jon Mitchell set a goal to compensate those at the lower pay grades to a living wage. On his weekly radio program in the days following the address, Mitchell noted that the raises would not be munificent, but would appropriately set to compensate for the work being done.

“ They’re not going to get rich working for the City, no matter what. Nobody does,” Mitchell said in 2016.

With the proposed contract being voted down by City Council, it will force the Mayors office and AFSCME back to the negotiating table. The contract would have had an estimated impact of $180,000 to the city in fiscal year 2017, and $686,000 in the 2018 fiscal year, if passed.

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