Wake County Schools

School workers miffed by 'insult' of a raise

Posted August 12

— Legislative leaders have talked a lot this summer about the raises they gave to public school teachers and most state employees, but they don't have as much to say about the raises for educational support staff in the state budget.

The $21.1 billion budget, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law last week, included raises averaging 5.5 percent, plus longevity pay, for teachers and $1,000 and an extra week of vacation for other state workers. But more than 59,200 non-certified school employees – teaching assistants, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and administrative staff – received only a $500 raise.

"That's not equitable. It just doesn't make sense," said Chris Bridges, who has worked 21 years in the Wake County Public School System Transportation Office.

Bridges noted that, if he did his job at a state agency instead of a school district, his raise would have been double what he will see in the coming year – and he would have gotten more time off.

"We all work for the public, and we should all get the same thing," he said. "What you do for one, you do for all, because we're all in the same boat. I still got to pay my mortgage. I still got to pay the light bill."

Non-certified school workers are some of the lowest-paid public-sector workers in North Carolina. They haven't had a real raise since 2008, and Bridges said $500 barely qualifies as one now.

"You're not even going to see that," he said. "It'll be $45 in your paycheck every month. That's not a raise. That's pretty much an insult."

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, a budget writer in the state House, said lawmakers did the best they could with the money they had. The $500 raise was a compromise with Senate leaders, who wanted no raise at all for school support staff, he said.

"You've got to start somewhere. I refuse to do nothing and wait till we have more money. These folks are struggling," Horn said, adding that the raises still "roughly align" with the average 2 percent raises given to other state workers.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, the chief House budget writer, said school districts could use local funds to add their own raises for support workers if they want to do so.

Wake County school administrators said there's no plan at this point for additional raises for support staff, and other school districts are looking at cutbacks because of tight budgets.

"We’ll take what we got and be satisfied with it, even though we don’t like it," said Bridges, who represents support workers in the North Carolina Association of Educators. "We’ll fight that battle at the polls."

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  • tarheelfan41 Aug 22, 4:30 p.m.

    They haven't had a real raise since 2008, and Bridges said $500 barely qualifies as one now.
    "We’ll take what we got and be satisfied with it, even though we don’t like it," said Bridges, who represents support workers in the North Carolina Association of Educators. "We’ll fight that battle at the polls."
    Why would Mr Bridgers want to put the demotax party back in control? The republicans gave him a small raise and the demotax gave him nothing. When the demotax were in control they blamed republicans for not giving away more of the taxpayers money. Now the republicans are in control the demotax are blaming the republicans. Sounds like to me the demotax just want to blame anyone but themselves.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 13, 7:46 p.m.

    "First of all, that's a survey of what *some* companies were considering doing"

    It's a representative survey, much like a poll. It's also been replicated numerous times by other employer surveys and BLS data, year after year.

    "Those layoffs often push people into lower-paying jobs"

    Yes, I agree, some people are making less, that doesn't mean that employers aren't giving raises.

    "If private sector pay truly increased, we would see a rise in median income."
    No, there's where you're going wrong again w/ assumptions.

    "people need a break somewhere."

    So do state workers. Somehow you like to ignore them. Is it because of politics? NC taxes are hardly high. Your rhetoric is once again full of holes. NC taxes, like the "penny" sales tax weren't hurting anybody. It cost each person an average $60 per year. Yet hundreds of thousands of NC state workers, middle class tax paying workers are denied higher wages because you want a $60 break. Then there's the recent income tax cut.

  • Alexia Aug 13, 7:12 p.m.

    "Sure, some might have received raises, but certainly not the majority."

    You're making another... View More

    — Posted by Plenty Coups

    First of all, that's a survey of what *some* companies were considering doing. What is not taken into consideration are the layoffs companies also had. Those layoffs often push people into lower-paying jobs. Then some of those employers that shed jobs hire new people at lower salaries. The net result is the increase means little, if there were those pay raises.

    If private sector pay truly increased, we would see a rise in median income. So far, I'm finding no data on 2014, but 2013 went down and there was also a claim of pay raises in the private sector in 2013, too.

    Bottom line is the state has to pay salaries out of the bucket of median incomes. You might be right that keeping the taxes higher might allow for higher state salaries. But this is like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Prices up & income down, property taxes up.. people need a break somewhere. State employees are not worse off than others.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 13, 6:39 p.m.

    "Sure, some might have received raises, but certainly not the majority."

    You're making another unsubstantiated claim.
    From Towers Watson: 96% of private companies are giving raises.

    http://www.towerswatson.com/en-US/Press/2013/09/most-us-companies-planning-moderate-pay-raises-for-2014

    From Aon Hewitt: " In 2013, top performing workers saw average increases of 4.7 percent, almost two times the amount the average worker (those who met expectations) received at 2.6 percent. Employees who did not meet expectations received average increases between 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent. "
    Looks like the vast majority received some kind of raise.

    "Where does that money come from? It comes from taxpayers. "

    We're not talking about raising taxes here, we're talking about repealing multiple rounds of tax cuts so that all employees can receive modest raises. This state was never a leader in overall taxes and the latest rounds of tax cuts hurt the middle class more than it helps.

  • Alexia Aug 13, 6:06 p.m.

    Go look at the US Census data and you'll see that median household incomes have either dropped... View More

    — Posted by Alexia

    What does that have to do with private sector raises which have been rising 2-3% each year?... View More

    — Posted by Plenty Coups

    Private sector raises have definitely not been 2-3% everywhere. Many companies have laid off... View More

    — Posted by Alexia

    Would love for you to actually prove that the loss in median income is due to lack of raises as... View More

    — Posted by Plenty Coups

    I didn't say that a loss in median income is due to lack of raises. That sounds rather contradictory.

    I said that median income has fallen and been relatively flat in recent years. That suggests that, on average, most people have lost income. Sure, some might have received raises, but certainly not the majority.

    Per the data provided by the federal government, the median income in 2012 was less than in 2007 by several thousand dollars. I am looking at the facts. I am looking at the numbers.

    Here's the bottom line: the average household has less money now than they did several years ago. Even so, you insist on increasing wages for state employees. Where does that money come from? It comes from taxpayers. Those are the people we're talking about here: the ones who, on average, have less income than they did a few years ago.

  • Plenty Coups Aug 13, 5:44 p.m.

    Not so true according to actual employment data. Most private sector jobs have been giving... View More

    — Posted by Plenty Coups

    Go look at the US Census data and you'll see that median household incomes have either dropped... View More

    — Posted by Alexia

    What does that have to do with private sector raises which have been rising 2-3% each year?... View More

    — Posted by Plenty Coups

    Private sector raises have definitely not been 2-3% everywhere. Many companies have laid off... View More

    — Posted by Alexia

    Would love for you to actually prove that the loss in median income is due to lack of raises as the data clearly shows otherwise. Just because you choose to ignore the data that goes against your pre-conceived notions doesn't mean you're right. Now you want to contribute to the further decline of the median income by neglecting to give any sort of raise to public sector workers. Why?

  • Plenty Coups Aug 13, 5:37 p.m.

    THE lack of respect shown to teachers is amazing. I am pretty sure no one was born all knowing... View More

    — Posted by rcherry132004

    hold on - no one is saying anything about not respecting teachers. Most of us in the private sec... View More

    — Posted by dabfvnc12

    Quite the exaggeration. We had plenty of money to give all state workers a big raise. We blew it voluntarily on multiple tax cuts. Our taxes were nowhere near NY or NJ at the time and now they're even lower.

  • Lady Justice Aug 13, 5:08 p.m.

    Here's a thought: If the State of NC would eliminate carrying over of vacation and other paid... View More

    — Posted by vance203

    Well you know they will use it instead of losing it, so how is that helping anything?

  • dabfvnc12 Aug 13, 5:02 p.m.

    THE lack of respect shown to teachers is amazing. I am pretty sure no one was born all knowing... View More

    — Posted by rcherry132004

    hold on - no one is saying anything about not respecting teachers. Most of us in the private sector would love to have the best teachers along with the best pay - but this article is about the non-teachers. In any event, everyone was getting a raise - some small, some large - whatever happened to thank you? And at what point do you say the pay is right? how much is enough? What percentage of everyone's income - which should be the same, regardless of what you make - should go towards taxes to pay for education? And what are you willing to do without, if you have a limited amount of money to work with? It's about living within our means, as well as make sure we provide good education. There is a balance that doesn't involve paying taxes that are so high that we become NY, NJ, and other states - that people are leaving to come here...

  • kdcg Aug 13, 4:52 p.m.

    I agree that everyone, including the private sector deserves a raise. But state employees push for theirs and many people in the private sector do not. If those people don't want raise their voice, picket or go to the media that's fine. But don't complain when state employees do and finally get a response after many years. I guarantee you that if people in the private sector start demanding higher wages and for employers to follow through on contracts, we state employees would support you and not tell you to stop whining.

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