By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposal to award full-time employees a one-time $5,000 premium payment and $2,500 for part-timers.
The plan will next go before the Personnel Board of Jefferson County on June 8. If approved by the personnel board, city employees can receive their payments as soon as June 18 or June 25, according to the mayor’s office.
The mayor said he was pleased by the Council’s vote given that “neighborhood revitalization, public safety and economic growth all depend on the work of our city employees.”
“I am pleased to have the support of the council in moving forward with premium pay to support our employees who continue to serve through this pandemic,” he said. “I want to thank each member of the council for . . . support of our employees who serve our city. Together, we are building a stronger Birmingham.”
Birmingham has 3,147 full-time employees and 68 part-time. The total line item pay totals $16.8 million.
Councilors voiced support for the premium pay and city workers.
“I think that we have very deserving employees that worked hard, and I think we owe this to them,” said Councilor Valerie Abbott. “Without the employees, the city is pretty much nothing . . . I had a conversation with a public works employee who told me he hasn’t had a day off since last year when the pandemic was announced, and he was just worn out.”
Councilor Crystal Smitherman, who voted against last year’s fiscal year budget because of cuts to employees, said she was happy to see things being made right.
“Our employees deserve the best, as a councilor I have been advocating for the employees since day one, I just want to make sure we continue to take care of our employees during this pandemic,” she said.
Councilor John Hilliard pointed out and applauded public works employees who have been on the front lines during the pandemic.
“They [public works] get the complaints and issues and problems, but we know a lot of them suffered from the pandemic with a lot of stress,” he said. “This is an excellent way to give back to our city employees… for everything they have sacrificed.”
Council President Pro-Tempore Wardine Alexander said she was excited for the employees who dealt with professional challenges and some who suffered personal losses. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity for this relief money that we can use in this fashion,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the city of Birmingham . . . our neighborhoods and our community, I’m grateful and a huge thank you to the staff.”
In a letter sent to city employees last week, Woodfin said his “Magic City Recovery Plan: Premium Pay” would be funded through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
He said employees “worked through unforeseen obstacles, constantly adjusted and adapted, and maintained the high level of service that our community expects.”
“Now, as our city begins its recovery, it’s my duty to make sure our city employees and their families are also supported as we continue to work through the pandemic,” Woodfin said. “While we have proposed an operating budget that provides a cost of living raise, merit and longevity pay and a fully funded pension, we want to do more.”
Updated at 5:51 p.m. on 6/1/2021 to include number of full-time and part-time city employees and total line item for the premium pay.