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Council nixes pay cuts for non-union workers

By Staff | Feb 28, 2012

They may have had different reasons, but the City Council unanimously rejected a plan by the interim city manager that would have resulted in a 2 percent pay cut for a vast majority of non-bargaining unit workers Monday night at City Hall.

The measure introduced by Steve Pohlman would have affected 69 workers and have saved the city about $129,000 per year. Almost 75 percent of them would have gotten a 2 percent pay cut. Six others would have earned a 1-percent cut.

The other 17 would have been exempt because they either would have fallen below minimum wage, had previously taken a pay cut or, for one worker, because it was written into the worker’s contract, according to the figures presented by Victoria Bateman, financial services manager.

“We had a shortfall and we asked for concessions to help the budget,” Pohlman said.

But the city council had a laundry list of concerns, from the issue of fairness to whether this was something the soon-to-be hired city manager should tackle.

On Feb. 6, the city council approved a wage cut of 2 percent and an increase in their pension fund by 3 percent for police and fire workers. Other employees took a 3 percent cut and 2 percent pension fund boost last year.

The non-union workers, who haven’t earned a raise since 2007 while most union workers received raises as recently as 2009, found allies in the council.

“I understand the rationale. To have everyone share the pain,” said District 6 Councilman Kevin McGrail. “I don’t think the council has the desire to chase after $90,000 in savings to fall on people whose salaries have been frozen for five years.”

“We’re 29 days away from selecting a new city manager, and he shouldn’t be hamstrung from making a better decision,” said District 4 Councilman Chris Chulakes-Leetz.

District 1 Councilman Marty McClain pretty much summed up the feelings of all workers as a parting shot.

“The day of pay cuts need to stop. I don’t want a union, non-union battle,” McClain said. “Nobody’s shown me how to start giving back.”

Pohlman said it was his job to put something to the council.

“I said I would do it and they rejected it. They’re policy makers, and I let the policymakers make the policy,” Pohlman said.

The non-bargaining tag workers run the gamut of responsibilities from human resources to top-level managers to administrative secretaries.