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General employee contracts aim to bring pay in line with comparable communities

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 27, 2019

ST. CLAIR SHORES — At its June 17 meeting, City Council approved three-year contracts for general employees that provide wage increases and, in the case of one bargaining unit, a pool of money to bring some positions’ pay in line with other communities.

“We are giving the opportunity to all affected employees to do the homework to show that their compensation is under (compensated) ... compared to the five comparable communities,” City Manager Mike Smith said.

The communities to be used as comparisons will be determined by the union and the city before July 5.

Employees in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) unit will receive a 2% wage increase in 2019 and 2020, and then a 2.5% wage increase for 2021. Total cost to the city is $81,255 in 2019, $82,881 in 2020 and $105,673 in 2021.

The contract also establishes a “wage inequity pool” procedure which lays out a total amount for the entire AFSCME group — not to exceed $15,000 in 2019, $10,000 in 2020 and $7,500 in 2021 — to adjust wage rates that are found to be under that received by comparable positions in comparable communities.

“We are giving the opportunity to all affected employees to do the homework to show that their compensation is under (the average),” Smith said. “It kind of pushes employees to do their homework as far as where they compare to other communities. We all like to think we’re underpaid (but) there are a couple classifications that are undercompensated.”

Other changes to the contract include giving the city the ability to hire new employees at a pay step level other than entry level based on prior training and experience.

“We have lost candidates because of that. They don’t want to give up the pay grade they’re at in another community,” Smith explained. “The decision to do this is 100% in the hands of management.”

The contract also changes the laborer III pay at Kyte Monroe Memorial Park to be the same rate as that paid to the same laborer III classification elsewhere in the city.

Employees in the Professional Employees Association United Auto Workers Local 412 (PEA) will receive 2% wage increases in each of the three contract years, for a total cost of $33,548 in 2019, $34,218 in 2020 and $34,903 in 2021 as part of the new contract.

Employees in that union will receive a smaller pay increase in 2021 because the city is changing health insurance coverage from member and spouse only to include dependent coverage.

Not covering the children of employees has been a problem for some employees in that group, Smith said.

That contract was approved 6-0, with Councilman Chris Vitale abstaining from the vote because he is a member of the UAW.

“I’d like to thank Mr. Smith for negotiating what turns out to be fair and equitable contracts for everyone,” said Councilman Peter Rubino.