By Mallory Estepp
The Williamston Post staff writer
WILLIAMSTON — Crossing guards for Williamston’s elementary schools received a pay increase after a yearlong wait.
Crossing guard Teri Nelson has been working at the elementary school for seven years. She never received a raise until March 26.
The pay was raised from $9.24 to $12 per hour.
“Michelle Van Wert asked for us to have an increase from $9.24 to $11 and then another councilman said, ‘No, they should make $12,’ and now we make $12,” said Nelson.
The vote was unanimous.
“We stand out in bitter cold weather, we’ve been cussed at, we’ve been spat at—my feet have been ran over,” said Nelson.
“I was very happy that the council chose to increase the pay,” said Michelle Van Wert, former city mayor. “It’s about being fair and not taking advantage of our employees.”
Van Wert first requested a pay increase from $9 to $10 in the crossing guards’ contract a year ago.
“I requested an increase in the contract because I thought it was fair since there are no additional benefits,” Van Wert said.
Nelson said she doesn’t receive health insurance or any other type of benefits, and cannot be in a union because there are only two crossing guards in the school district.
The proposed raise was voted down.
Nelson said she was disappointed because all the council members have stood out in the corner and witnessed the lack of respect toward crossing guards.
“It is injustice,” said Nelson. “I cross some of the city council’s children — we’re protecting the children.”
Nelson said that some drivers refuse to obey her, despite being in a school zone and sometimes drive so fast that they have a hard time slowing down in time.
Parents wrote letters to the city advocating for the pay increase.
“Teri is always here watching our kids and the crossing guards don’t get paid again,” said one parent walking her children to Nelson’s corner.
Police Chief Bob Young, the crossing guards’ supervisor, also spoke for the guards.
“I spoke to the police chief and he spoke highly of the current individuals,” said Van Wert.
Then, three months ago, Nelson discovered that the pay she was supposed to receive on her contract was $9.24, while she was only receiving $9 on her paychecks.
“I was owed pay for throughout this past year, I mean, they couldn’t even get this right,” Nelson.
Last week, Nelson and the other crossing guard received a check with the amount owed.
Nelson said she is pleased with the increase and that she wasn’t expecting to receive $12 an hour.
“Even if I don’t get this raise, even if I didn’t get paid, I’ll still be here; this is my corner, this is my job to cross these children,” Nelson said before the city council meeting.