Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Hundreds of Houston civilian employees gathered on the steps of City Hall on Thursday evening to call for higher wages.
"We want to be reasonably compensated for doing the work that helps make Houston the world-class city it is," said Jere Talley, a member of Houston Organization of Public Employees.
Talley said she is part of the union's 38-member negotiating team that is working with the city to create a contract. The union represents about 4,000 members, she said.
The city has offered a two percent across-the-board pay increase each year for four years, but union members say that's not enough. They earn at least 21 percent less than similar employees in other large cities, Talley said.
"I'm with them," said City Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who attended the rally. "I think we have some of the best city workers in the United States. I would like to see if we can find the resources to offer more than the two percent."
Organizers said about 600 workers attended the event. The union leaders said they have been negotiating with the city for seven months and among other issues, they want every city worker to earn at least $10 an hour.
Some workers at the rally were hopeful they could win higher wages.
"What we want is a living wage," said Warren Noble. "We're not mad at Mayor (Bill) White. We just want him to see our side."