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Local AFSCME leaders ask Peoria Housing Authority to raise wages

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Hannah Alani
/
WCBU
Rhonda Sexton, center, is the president of AFSCME Local 3464, the Peoria-based chapter of a public workers' union.
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In the last six months, the Peoria Housing Authority has lost six union jobs, according to local AFSCME 3464 president Rhonda Sexton.

Two of those workers recently left the PHA to work for the Wisconsin-based developer taking over Taft Homes.

After PHA sold the low-income housing complex to the developer, the authority offered those workers — the former asset manager and assistant asset manager at Taft Homes — alternative work at Sterling Homes, Sexton said.

Instead, these workers took the private, non-union jobs.

“One of the positions provided quite a lucrative increase, close to a $20,000 wage increase,” Sexton said.

During Monday’s monthly PHA board meeting, Sexton demanded the authority consider raising hourly wages, which currently start just above $12.

Raising wages is a sign of respect to essential workers who were lauded as “heroes” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sexton said.

The longer the PHA waits to address this, Sexton said, the more outside private companies will "court" union workers.

“They have worked day in and day out tirelessly during the pandemic, often times facing conditions that were unsafe, and continue to, depending on their jobs,” she said.

After Monday’s regular meeting adjourned, PHA board members went into a closed session to discuss collective bargaining.

After the session ended, acting PHA director Jackie Newman told WCBU she had no comment regarding ongoing contract negotiations.

Taft Homes will be officially renamed "Providence Pointe" during a groundbreaking ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Financial closing has taken place and Wisconsin's Bear Development now owns and manages the complex, which will be demolished and rebuilt in phases over the next few years.

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