Protesters return to Atlanta City Hall

Protesters return to Atlanta City Hall

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ATLANTA -

Families of city workers returned to Atlanta City Hall for a second day of protests on Friday.  They say they know the city faces budget issues, but they're demanding bigger pay raises for police, firefighters and other first responders.

Those who took part in Thursday's protest said their loved ones are forced to work extra jobs just to make ends meet, leaving little time for family.  

Mayor Kasim Reed has designated a 1 percent pay raise for public safety.  The wives of those police officers, firefighters and dispatchers say that won't even buy a single bag of groceries.  They hope to successfully lobby for a raise that's more significant than what is currently on the table.  

The group of wives and family members raised funds to put up billboards indicating that first responders are the last to get paid.  

Mayor Reed believes the criticism is misplaced.  Reed has defended his commitment to public safety workers.

"When I came into office, I was facing a $48 million budget shortfall. I gave the police the first step increase that they had received – a 3.5 percent raise -- in six years. The additional 1 percent means they would have gotten 4.5 percent since I have been mayor, in more than 3.5 years. Show me any leader who has done more for their police department than I have," Reed said.

Reed wants to give non-public safety, like garbage pickup and water workers, a 3 percent increase.  It's to make up for the earlier, unequal pay raise during the first year.  

FOX 5's Morse Diggs notes that the year after the workers were given the 3.5 percent raise, workers gave back essentially 5 percent to help the city with pension contributions.

Demonstrators said they'd like to see at least a 5 percent raise. The Atlanta City Council said they would talk with the mayor's staff about the numbers.

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