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Phoenix Cuts Wages To Balance Budget

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Courtesy of The City of Phoenix

The Phoenix city council reached contract agreements with its union employees last night. After hours of testimony the council voted to approve new contracts even though not all the unions supported the agreement. 

The city is facing a near $38 million deficit. Trying to avoid cuts to programs and services, city management proposed across the board pay cuts of 1.6 percent for all city workers. Union representatives told council members that forcing employees to accept the contract would create hard feelings. Union representative Luis Schmidt told the council union members would be closely watching future council decisions.

"Don’t think because you imposed the contract this is over," said Schmidt.

Many speakers criticized the council for balancing the budget through pay cuts. They blamed the council for losing control of the budget. Councilman Michael Nowakowski said the council based its decision on the information it had.

"We were given false numbers. We were given a budget that wasn’t true, wasn’t real. We need to do something because I don’t want to sit here next year and feel this way. Feel like we got screwed, just like you all," said Nowakowski.   

 Bill Gates agreed  with other council members and union representatives about how this year’s contract negotiations had gone.

"I completely agree with councilman Pastor on the negotiations process It’s broken. It’s absolutely broken," said Gates. 

The council was told a new budget process is being implemented in an effort to provide more timely updates to the council.  That might avoid a repeat of this year’s contract issues.

Al Macias, former KJZZ news director, is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.