ATLANTA -- A hundred public safety employees, their families and other backers, started the day outside city hall-loudly making a point about their city salaries.
"He's bringing home less than ever," said Kelly Uhlis, the wife of an Atlanta police sergeant. She and other raise-backers say city workers gave back five percent of their salaries at the start of Mayor Reed's administration in the name of pension reform. Now they want it back-and more than Reed is offering.
"To suggest a one percent pay raise is absolutely infuriating," said Sgt. Carrie Mills, a retired Atlanta police officer who now works part time for the city. "What is a one percent pay raise? It's a happy meal! Every two weeks. A happy meal!"
By midafternoon, many of them were packing into the city council chamber. But it wasn't just public safety employees.
"Five percent is what I'm fighting for," Gina Pagnotta Murphy, a union president representing civilian city employees, told the council's finance committee. "Find a way that we can restore our five percent. One percent - I don't even want to come to the table with one percent."
They faced off with city council members who had voted raises for themselves exceeding fifty percent just a few months ago-who now see a billboard posted last week off North Ave. targeting that vote.
"My position has been to always figure out how we can help everybody at one time," said councilman Kwanza Hall. He voted against the city council pay raise.
"And I know my colleagues do believe in supporting the first responders. And they do believe in supporting the general base of employees," Hall said. "How do we do that?"
The city council is expected to try to answer that question before it approves a budget next month.