Madera City employees say they haven’t seen a cost of living increase in years, and tonight they’ll be picketing outside city hall, before the council’s meeting, in protest.
Salary negotiations are not on the council’s agenda, but protesters hope their presence highlights the wage issue. Members of the Madera Affiliated Employees Association are working under a contract that expired at the end of June.
“We’re asking for a cost of living allowance, and we’re getting a hard no and pushback on that,” says Dustin Pickett. He’s a mechanic for the city and president of the Madera Affiliated Employees Association. He says the city has told the group time and again it doesn’t have money for wage increases, but a recent analysis by the state auditor says Madera’s general fund reserves are in good shape.
“After a few months go by, then the city ends up with a massive surplus,” says Pickett. “After quite a few years of that happening, you’ve kind of lost trust in the process.”
Madera City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez declined an interview, but said in a statement to Valley Public Radio, the city is “committed to working in good faith with labor groups.”