Mission mulls wage increase for civilian city workers

MISSION — While unable to fulfill a campaign promise to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour, Mayor Armando O’Caña is working with the council and staff to raise wages by at least $1 for all civilian employees.

During a budget workshop held Friday morning, the city council members reached a consensus on a proposal to raise the salaries of all civilian employees if they currently make less than $15 an hour. Some laborer employees, however, would receive a raise of more than $1 to make them comparable to neighboring cities under the proposal.

Those employees — such as park laborers, greenskeepers, streets laborers, and pipe layer laborers — stood out because data indicated they were having train new employees in those categories every four weeks.

“When we saw that data we felt this was an emergency type of deal,” O’Caña said.

Under the proposal, the employees who fall into those categories will receive a wage increase of more than $1 per hour to fall between what the city of Pharr and the city of Edinburg pay such employees.

“We’re going to be able to compete with the rest of the cities, keep our staff, and decrease our training budgets for each division,” O’Caña said. “We’re going to save in the training because every four weeks we’ve been training our people and they’ve been moving to McAllen and Edinburg, and so forth.”

During his mayoral campaign, O’Caña unveiled a plan of action for his first 100 days in office. Listed in his plan was to create $15 minimum wage for all city employees.

O’Caña acknowledged he would be unable to reach that goal during the promised time but said he would still be working to achieve that during his term as mayor.

“At the end of my four years as the mayor, I want to be able to say that the minimum wage went from $8.50 to $15,” O’Caña said. “I might have not done it in the first 100 days but that’s OK.”

“I got elected to serve 88,000, not only the ones that voted for me,” he added. “We have to take care of 88,000 and the city of Mission comes first.”

bereniceg@themonitor.com