County workers request council members for wage increases

St. Louis County Council members at the meeting on November 27, 2018 (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

CLAYTON, Mo. – Many in attendance of the St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday evening were county workers and court staff members.

Employees from various county departments went forward to the podium during the public forum to ask the council to add pay increases into the 2019 fiscal budget, while many others stood in support to those who were speaking. They provided the council with detailed lists of the duties that are entailed in their positions, but also explained that many workers have taken on more responsibilities without receiving the compensation that they deserve.

St. Louis County workers stand up in support with speakers during public forum (at the meeting on November 27, 2018 DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)
St. Louis County workers stand up in support with speakers during public forum at (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

“We now have little hope to retain qualified employees after only brief periods of employment,” Marshall Day, Director of Operations, Family Court of St. Louis County, said. “I have also witnessed…our professional staff now taking part-time employment in order to make ends meet. This practice reduces their ability to rest and recover from their difficult jobs and reduces, if not eliminates, the time to spend with their family and loved ones.”

Day told council members the request that the staff members have made previously will affect 350 court employees, 222 from the Family Court which includes correction officers, juvenile probation officers, prosecutors and many other support staff members.

Employees explained to the council members that the county workers in their departments make sure to come to work each day despite the weather conditions and the need to work extra jobs to make ends meet because they have a duty to help the public.

“I believe that the proposed pay increase submitted on our behalf is essential to the court civility to retain the skilled workforce currently employed and to attract the same level of professionalism in going forward,” Attorney Brian Seltzer said. “I believe that it is the expectation of the St. Louis County government and the communities that we serve that the Family Court continues to provide a high level of services, be innovative in a field of juvenile justice and continue to be a responsible partner as it concerns public safety.”

Employees, especially court staff members, reported that they handle multiple types of cases on a regular basis dealing with day old babies to youth up to 17 years of age at all hours of the weekdays and weekends.

“We are committed to public safety,” Seltzer said.

Councilwoman Erby spoke to thank the county workers and court staff members for speaking, ensuring them that they did not come to speak for no reason.

St. Louis County residents and workers listen to public forum during the council meeting on November 27, 2018 (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)
St. Louis County residents and workers listen to the public forum during the council meeting (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

“So many times you come and we don’t make comments or anything, but I just want you to know that your concerns did not fall on deaf ears,” Erby said. “We hear you and we are trying to work out something. The budget is [difficult] and we’re working hard on it every day. So you didn’t come for nothing, I’m happy that you came.”

Councilman Page said that the budget has been described to the council as being “structurally unbalanced,” especially in the general funds, which consists of mostly county operations.

“The County Council’s job is to appropriate and accept appropriation boundaries,” Page said. “The authority of the executive branch is to spin and we’ve got a dynamic that we need to navigate and get around the structural unbalance.”

The county council met Tuesday, after the county council meeting, to discuss more plans for the 2019 fiscal budget. Council members reported that they are trying to work together with the County Executive and his administration to provide the best solutions for the taxpayers.