Stenger and council reach agreement to raise pay for jail nurses

Kerah Braxton, an employee of the St. Louis County Justice Center, speaks at the Sept. 4, 2018, meeting of the St. Louis County Council. Nurses and corrections workers will get between a 10- and 16-percent raise under a plan that could be finalized soon.

JASON ROSENBAUM I ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

(St. Louis Public Radio) - After a long and bitter impasse, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and members of the St. Louis County Council are planning to provide a pay boost for nurses that treat county inmates.

The plan could get final approval from the council in the next couple of weeks.

Last year, St. Louis County voters passed a half-cent sales tax known as Proposition P. Most of the money went toward raises for, among other places, the St. Louis County Police Department. But corrections officers and nurses didn’t get the same raise. And that led those employees to lobby the council for months.

Stenger and the council agreed that the workers needed raises but disagreed how to pay for them. Council members wanted to use proceeds from Prop P. Stenger wanted to use the health fund. This week, the two sides came to a compromise: About $781,000 from Prop P funds will go toward giving Justice Center employees a raise. Of those funds, about $376,000 will be reimbursed to the Department of Health.

“This plan grew out of a compromise achieved during numerous meetings between our administration and members of the council with the goal of fairly compensating employees who work in an especially challenging environment on behalf of county residents,” Stenger said in a letter to the council.

The upshot is that corrections officers and nurses will get anywhere from a 10- to 16-percent raise. That’s gratifying for Kerah Braxton, who has spoken up during the council’s public forum for months.

“In the beginning, we didn’t know what to expect,” Braxton said. “But we knew a wrong had happened. And it was our opportunity and our responsibility to right a wrong. And we came to you all for help, and you did.”

County Council Chairman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, said the proposal should be approved in the next week or two.

Republished with permission of St. Louis Public Radio: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/stenger-and-council-reach-agreement-raise-pay-jail-nurses

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