The City of Atlanta will raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next two fiscal years, starting with an increase to $13 per hour in Fiscal Year 2018, beginning on July 1, 2017.
“I am proud to announce today that the City of Atlanta has raised its minimum wage to $13 per hour, effective July 1, and will increase to $15 per hour over the next two fiscal years,” said Mayor Reed. “With this action, we are demonstrating that the City of Atlanta offers competitive employment at all levels, and respects the dignity of all workers. I am also pleased to raise the starting salary for our firefighters, who set the standard for professional fire departments in our state.”
The Atlanta City Council approved four additional compensation actions at the end of June as amendments to the $2.1 billion FY18 budget, passed unanimously. Taken together, the five compensation actions affect one-third of the City’s workforce, all of whom saw a pay change effective July 1, 2017. The City’s commitment to $15 per hour will impact another 10 percent of employees. Workers in all departments at grades 19 and above who make less than $150,000 per year will receive a three percent salary increase. The City will also spend $2 million in general fund dollars to establish a three-tier payment structure for recruits and firefighters within the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (AFRD), bringing the starting salary for recruits to $40,000 annually. The new funding structure affects 441 firefighters and recruits. The salary is set prior to including any credentials or educational incentives. This amendment was also adopted unanimously. Finally, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and AFRD will offer a $5,000 one-time bonus for new hires with prior military service and honorable discharge or continued active service through the reserves.
The City of Atlanta worked with Atlanta Jobs with Justice, a local non-profit organization, in setting the new minimum wage, which affects 360 employees immediately and will affect more than 850 employees once the full increase is phased in.
“The fight for $15 came to Atlanta through our organization, supporting fast food workers fighting for a livable wage. The courage of those workers told us that Georgia workers everywhere were ready for $15. We are excited to see Atlanta restore its promise to living wages, because more than 1,000 individuals will be pulled out of poverty from this action,” said Shannan Reaze, executive director of Atlanta Jobs with Justice. “It is critical on this day that we show the nation that the South is committed to progress, workers and living wages.”
Since Mayor Reed’s inauguration in January 2010, public safety personnel and city employees have received eleven salary increases totaling more than $26 million in compensation. In January 2011, sworn officers in the Atlanta Police and the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department received a full step pay increase of 3.5 percent, the first full step increase granted since 2007. In 2013, sworn personnel received two additional pay increases, for a total of 5.5 percent in increases.
The Administration has consistently made notable investments in employee compensation and benefits. In the midst of the worst economic recession in 80 years, the Administration eliminated furloughs and layoffs citywide, built the largest fire department to date and eliminated staffing shortages on fire trucks, brought the city’s police force to 2,000 officers for the first time in the department’s history, and restored command staff at the city jail. Earlier this year, Mayor Reed made the City of Atlanta the first local government in the state to offer up to six weeks’ paid parental leave for primary caregivers and up to two weeks for secondary caregivers.