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Gainesville Commission To Examine Part-Time Wage Policy

Crossing guard Pamela Miles explains to city commissions that crossing guards go beyond their job description to help the community. She said that one day, a boy came through her zone on a cold day without a jacket, so she found him one to warm himself.

The Gainesville City Commission unanimously passed a motion Thursday to examine a recent policy change affecting pay for part-time and temporary city workers.

About two dozen part-time workers gathered at the city commission meeting to address Mayor Lauren Poe and commissioners during public comments.

After an August policy change, workers are no longer paid for days not worked, including storm days and other scattered holidays. Prior to the change, part-time employees would be paid for these days off, much like full-time workers.

“We just really want what was promised to us when we took the job,” said school crossing guard Pamela Miles during the meeting. “Not asking for anything more, not anything less. Just what is fair to us.”

Miles joined other city employees to address the commission on how missed pay affected their lives.  Olivia Lewis, a school crossing guard since 2010, said she fell behind on her bills after missing a week of pay after Hurricane Irma hit.

“We love doing what we’re doing, so please consider us in your plans and take care of us,” Lewis said. “We really would appreciate that.”

After the public comment portion of the meeting concluded, the mayor and commissioners spoke to the concerns of the part-time and temporary workers.

“There is no reason why, if you’re a crossing guard, you shouldn’t be given the same consideration as somebody who’s making $300,000 working for the city,” Commissioner Charles Goston said. “I say that because the person making $300,000 can absorb a hit. The person who is at the bottom of the economic ladder cannot.”

Commissioners passed the motion, proposed by Commissioner Helen Warren, requesting an official report from the city management office to detail how the wage change has affected city employees and the budget. The motion also asked for clarification on the August policy change and whether this wage change was an enactment of a previously unenforced policy.

No timetable was assigned for the report.

Some commissioners, like Harvey Ward, said that while the wage change had big impacts on the lives of the workers it affected, it is unlikely that the money gained by the city was substantial in relation to the city’s overall budget.

However, the mayor and commissioners agreed to await the results of the report before moving forward.

“What I’ve learned is nothing is just as simple as saying ‘do it’ or ‘don’t do it,’” Poe said after the meeting. “Sometimes you’re prevented from doing things, and sometimes there are unforeseen costs that you just don’t know about and have to consider.”

Sheila Payne, a part-time crossing guard and membership coordinator for the Alachua County Labor Coalition, was no more optimistic walking out of the meeting than before she went in.

“I think it’s important to do what we did no matter what,” she said. “We’ll just have to see.”

About Matthew Arrojas

Matthew is a reporter for WUFT News and Fresh Take Florida who can be reached by calling 786-332-8003 or emailing marrojas@ufl.edu.

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