City of Selma Public Works Department goes on strike

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2022

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The City of Selma Public Works Department went on strike  Wednesday because of lack of payraise and feeling disrespected by the Selma City Council.

Delores Smith, an employee in the Public Works Department, said a main reason for going on strike because  the city council voted down a proposed 2023 Fiscal Year Budget presented to them by Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. 

“We are on strike until our demands are met,” Smith said. “In the budget Mayor Perkins proposed to the city council, the Public Works Department would receive a raise. The Budget came back when the Mayor was out of town.”

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In Perkins’ proposed budget, he requested to the city council that the City minimum wage be set at $12 per hour, and truck drivers and heavy-duty equipment operators at $16 per hour.

Perkins made the request for the salary increases for Public Works and other departments at a public hearing last month in Council Chambers. Public Works Director Henry Hicks also spoke at the hearing about his employees.

Smith said that Public Works employees feel disrespected .

“The Selma Police Department and Selma Fire Department are both considered essential workers by the city council,” Smith said. “They get a substantial amount of money. When it comes to the Public Works Department, we’re not considered essential workers. We work out there in the heat, rain and snow. A lot of people don’t know what our department does.”

Selma City Councilman Clay Carmichael said the city council did its part during the budget negotiations.

“The council voted 6-2 to send a suggested budget yo the Mayor that is affordable and includes a $2 increase to the lowest paid employees , bringing the city’s minimum wage to $11 an hour,” Carmichael said. “That’s $3.75 higher than February, 2021. I hope that we can afford to increase again next  year, but a politically motivated strike makes this a difficult decision.

“Mayor Perkins has stated that we need to increase pay, then ask the people to pay for it through property tax increases. I’m against raising taxes on a poverty striken city and I think we need to work within our means.”

Snow’s Cleaning Service owner LeMarkus A. Snow encourages the city council to stand its ground. “Selma City Council doesn’t need to get bullied by this gesture,” Snow said. “The Mayor and Public Works Director are over day to day operations of Public Works. If the director is motivating these guys not  to work, he needs to be removed.”

The 2022 Fiscal Year ends September 30 and the 2023 Fiscal Year begins on October 1.