Some City of Sacramento employees make just $12.60 an hour — there’s no raise in sight

Some City of Sacramento employees make just $12.61 an hour, with no raise in sight, according to the leaders of the city’s largest union.

According to a sign-in sheet at the event, about 250 members of Stationary Engineers Local 39 held a rally Tuesday at City Hall in an effort to get the City Council’s attention.

“We’re trying to come out to show the council that we’re some of the lowest-paid employees of the city and we do most of the backbreaking work for the city,” said Laura Trapp, business administrator for Local 39.

Some union members, such as park maintenance workers, start at $12.61 an hour in base pay, just 61 cents above minimum wage, Trapp said.

The union represents 1,500 city employees, including solid waste drivers, water plant operators, animal control workers, clerks, customer service representatives and code enforcement workers, Trapp said.

“These really are the people who keep the lights on and they have families and when you’re making less than $20 an hour, it’s really hard to feed your family and pay your rent,” Trapp said.

City Manager Howard Chan said in a statement: “The people who work for the City of Sacramento are the City’s greatest assets. I am proud of the work City employees do every day to serve our community. The City’s Labor Relations staff continues to negotiate in good faith with Local 39 in an effort to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

The union’s contract expired in June and the city has canceled at least three bargaining sessions, Trapp said.

Union members held signs that read, “I don’t want to strike but I will,” and “Cost of living up, my take home pay down“ and chanted “No contract, no peace,” as they marched in a circle outside City Hall.

Branden Bradley, 36, who works as a 311 customer service agent, said he wants a raise to be able to give a better life for his two children, ages 2 and 4.

“(If I got a raise), I would use it to put a down payment on a house and make sure they get a good education,” said Bradley, who’s worked for the city for 13 years.

Bradley currently rents a house in south Sacramento with his family.

The city increased wages for contractors by 4.5 percent this year, based on the increasing living wage rates for the Bay Area, according to a Feb. 1 memo from City Manager Howard Chan to city department heads. That means contractors are paid a higher base salary than some of the city’s full-time employees.

All city employees who work at least half-time also receive a pension contribution from the city, as well as a Social Security contribution and health benefits.

Jake Fernandez, 58, a childcare program coordinator, said he felt disrespected when he heard about the contractors’ raises.

“We’re supposed to be a family,” said Fernandez, who’s worked for the city for 29 years. “We deserve to be respected.”

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.