Flint, MI– With council’s approval of a new contract between the city and its largest labor union, city of Flint employees stand to make starting wages of at least $15 an hour.

On April 14, Mayor Sheldon Neeley and Local 1600 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees President Sam Muma announced that they had reached an agreement to update the contract that was more than a decade old.

“Over the past two years, we have experienced some unprecedented times in our community, in our society. It is these hard-working men and women here that provided a level of service, a high level of service in these very difficult times,” Neeley said. “We compensated these heroes and these essential workers for the job that they do.”

During the Flint City Council meeting on April 20, Muma said this was the first time in a decade the group has been able to negotiate a contract due to previous constraints placed by emergency managers.

In 2012 and 2014, he said emergency managers imposed contracts on his bargaining unit. It wasn’t until 2018 that Muma said they got the ability to negotiate. This contract update has been in the works now for more than three years, he said.

“So this is the first time in a decade that the process works the way it’s supposed to. Nobody got what they wanted,” Muma said. “We had some tough times. But we were able to do what we thought was our best we could do.”

Muma told the council this contract would affect about 192 members of the union, which includes city employees, civilian employees in the police department, and other departments.

He called the contract “very fair” and said they had to take into consideration the city’s future financial difficulties, including unfunded liabilities and rising pension costs.
Councilman Eric Mays asked if this contract would impact blight employees who he heard were making $11 or $12 an hour.

Muma said that this contract would impact them and bring their wages up to $15 an hour once the contract is ratified and approved by council. He said during the negotiations, they considered “the revolving door,” of certain positions in the city.

“When we hire them at $11 or $12, they stick around and then they leave. We believe we fixed that under this collective bargaining agreement and their wages are going up,” Muma said.

Mays said that’s what he wanted to hear.

“I think y’all did a good job, you and your team,” Mays said.

Councilwoman Tonya Burns agreed.

“The workers need a livable wage. And I know you worked really hard on this. And I just want to say thank you,” she said. “You did a good job, and this needed to be taken care of.”

Details of the contract were discussed during a closed executive session during the council meeting. After the session, the council voted 7-0 to send the resolution for the collective bargaining agreement to their next regular council meeting on April 25, where it will be put to a vote for final approval.

Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter and Councilwoman Eva Worthing were not present for the meeting.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...