On April 20, 2022, members of the Virginia Beach City Workers Union/UE rallied outside and spoke at the City Council’s budget hearing, demanding that the city provide its workers with living wages and recognition for years of service.
“On this evening we’re standing in unity for change,” said street maintenance worker Eric Ellerbe. He noted that according to a market analysis done by the union, “the midpoint for a maintenance worker is current $9,991 below market average.”
Human services worker Valeria Hodges told the council, “many workers like myself can’t afford to live in a city we serve, simple because we don’t make enough.”
Virginia Beach city workers are demanding a city budget that includes:
- A step pay plan that recognizes workers’ years of service,
- Reclassification of all pay grades that are more than five percent below market average, and
- A minimum wage of $15 per hour for all city workers.
Waste management worker Brad Belton, after pointing out that city council members don’t themselves do the necessary work of running garbage trucks, maintaining sewers and or mowing school lawns, challenged them with the question, “Are you doing something to help the citizens, or are you hurting us?”
Terry Green, a mechanic in the water department, agreed, telling the council “y’all don’t feel the tension because you don’t have to do the work, but we do.” He noted that workers have been “constantly working overtime, 50-60 hours” and that he himself is “nowhere near the pay scale I should be” after 32 years of service.
Devon Conley, who works in the highways and stormwater department, said that if the city implements the union’s recommendations, “that will finally be the justice we need. The question is are your employees a priority for you or not?”
“We really need a serious raise this year,” concluded Ellerbe. “It’s time for the city to show their appreciation and move forward with the step pay plan, the regrade and raise the floor plan up to $15 an hour. We deserve it.”