Some Washtenaw County employees getting raises while others asked to make concessions
A handful of top Washtenaw County officials are in line for pay raises, just months after rank-and-file employees made millions in concessions to help balance the county's budget.
That angered labor union leaders who attended Wednesday night's meeting of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.
"Shame on some of the highest-paid employees of the county for taking an additional raise for themselves when they should be setting the example," Nancy Heine, president of AFSCME Local 3052, said after commissioners voted on the issue.
The board voted 9-1 in committee with Commissioner Alicia Ping absent to give tentative approval to a restructuring of the county's administration and support services.
The plan includes the elimination of 11 full-time positions, creation of nine new positions, reclassification of seven positions, and holding two positions vacant — for a net reduction of four jobs and $326,422 in savings to the county's general fund.
Employees whose jobs are reclassified will see a 4 percent pay raise, which will apply to both union and non-union employees. Anytime a position is reclassified, it's standard policy that the employee receives a step up in their pay grade, county officials said.
Instead of hiring a new deputy county administrator — a position that's been vacant since last June when Bill Reynolds resigned — the four team members will assume new duties. Even with the raises, McDaniel pointed out it's still a savings for the county.
The four team members are Finance Director Kelly Belknap, Infrastructure Management Director Gregory Dill, Corporation Counsel Curtis Hedger and Human Resources and Labor Relations Director Diane Heidt.
McDaniel said the team members will be compensated in compliance with county policy, which calls for boosts in pay when employees take on higher duties.
According to McDaniel, each member of the team will have their maximum salary capped at $126,099. Heidt is already at that limit, so she won't receive a raise.
But for the other three team members — Belknap, Dill and Hedger — a 4 percent raise will boost their pay to $121,437.
Commissioner Ronnie Peterson, D-Ypsilanti, said that's hard to stomach. He expressed concerns the county's policies favor employees at the top and don't give fair consideration to rank-and-file county employees who have made large concessions in recent years.
"How do we ask those who lead to make a commitment and share in the sacrifice that the rank and file are sharing in?" he said. "The leadership should share in the sacrifice as well. You're talking about people who make $32,000 a year just lost 6 or 8 percent in wage increases over the last few years — in comparison to people who make over $100,000 a year."
Commissioner Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township, defended the restructuring plan laid out by the administrator and her staff.
"This board has hired the administrator to manage the county on a day-in and day-out basis. I think she's well aware of this board's concerns and priorities," he said. "And if she feels this is the way to move the county forward under her direction, I support those efforts."
McDaniel noted the changes will result in a net savings of $163,252 for the County Administrator's Office.
When McDaniel first proposed creation of the Cross Lateral Team several months ago, the plan called for boosting the pay of the four team members by $15,000 each. That proposal was quickly pulled from the county board's agenda in September, but not without first causing some controversy, including backlash from employees who called it a slap in the face.
Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, asked Wednesday how it came to be that the four team members would get 4 percent raises instead of $15,000 bonuses.
Heidt said the county has policies and procedures in place that talk about reclassifications, promotions, lateral transfers and demotions, and the Cross Lateral Team appointments are more similar to reclassifications, and so 4 percent raises are appropriate.
"There's a fairness and equity consideration there that I think is really important from an institutional perspective," added County Board Chairman Conan Smith, D-Ann Arbor, arguing county employees should be properly compensated for taking on additional duties.
"But right now we don't have that policy," he said. "So until we develop a policy that addresses some of the concerns and considerations that are raised by this compensation, I don't think it would be right of us not to implement fairly the policy that we do have on the books."
County officials say the adjustments in staffing will allow for better alignment of the day-to-day operations of support services.
Heine of AFSCME Local 3052 expressed concerns that the restructuring plan eliminates two supervisory union positions in the finance department and replaces them with two new non-union positions that will do some of the same work.
"We've been down this road two other times where they have eliminated our positions and given the work to others in the non-union structure," she said. "And we've taken these cases to court, and in both of the other instances, we were given our positions back or given back similar positions in those departments."
Heine said commissioners are well aware that the latest restructuring plan will once again put the union in the position of having to fight to regain its lost positions.
One of the two positions is currently filled. Heine said the new positions being created pay more, but that doesn't matter — the issue is the chipping away at the union's ranks.
"This is something that has really impacted our bargaining unit more significantly because we're supervisors and the unit is smaller," she said.
Commissioners also took action at Wednesday's full board meeting to approve new three-year contracts with the bargaining units representing the county's assistant prosecutors and public defenders. The contracts run from Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2014.
They include no wage increases and have employees sharing 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums, along with various other concessions.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.
Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.
I also have a problem with the Washtenaw County hiring back retired workers. So now they get 2 checks from the County. If you are retired you should not be working for the employer you retired from. I don't care if it is short term. That is not fair to the County employees that have not retired. I think this is so unfair but Washtenaw County embraced this policy. I thought that was double dipping.
Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:05 a.m.
"Employees whose jobs are reclassified will see a 4 percent pay raise, which will apply to both union and non-union employees. Anytime a position is reclassified, it's standard policy that the employee receives a step up in their pay grade, county officials said'. These kind of policies are why these folks can't manage and control fiscal costs. This is union influence and politically motivated for votes. These special interest payments have to stop or nothing will ever change except increases to taxpayers to pay for this type of bloat.
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.
jcj - the road commission is a separate entity than the rest of the county dept's - at least currently, but-the road commission management has given themselves some very health raises as well, including the new managing directors 24% raise. All this while they are in the middle on negotiations with their unions and all the while pleading poor.Wouldn't you like to be on the receiving end of that kind of "poor"?! If the county does decide to absorb the RC - which, if you look at all the shenanigans currently going on - it really might be a good idea and thin out the overlap in jobs/government excess.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.
Conan and his posse need to go. Personally, I have taken on extra duties and have been asked to do duties that no one else on the staff has to do, but gee I didn't receive a raise. When i voted for this contract i did it in good faith. Felt the insurance was reasonable and thought i had to vote for 10 days off without pay due to the dire straits the county was in. Are my kids not allowed a college education? I guess my family is not as important as the county administrators families are, even though i represent the court to the community; I do the work that matters while they hide from the community and the staff. It is certainly true, " The rich definately get richer and the poor get poorer."
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.
Sorry - "last several years."
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.
Conan Smith's reply sounds just like another spin. Almost every City and County employee I know has taken on more work in the last several work. The work of personnel who are laid off falls on the shoulders of those who are still employed. NONE of them receive raises or reclassifications. Mr. Smith knows this. He also knows that Human Resources would not go along with the reclassifications. Many employees work overtime and withouth breaks, with no compensation, to finish the work they are assigned.
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.
Townie, if your job duties changed substantially enough that they should have resulted in a reclassification then you were definitely treated unfairly. You should check this with your ombudsperson and bring a complaint to human resources. In my experience, the labor leadership is always substantively involved in the conversation over restructuring and reclassifications (as I know they were this time) and are pretty good at raising the flag when an individual employee is being subjected to unjust treatment.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.
Commissioner Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township, defended the restructuring plan laid out by the administrator and her staff. As I noted in the article about the Humane Society, Mr Smith is concerned about money being spent from the reserves, but votes for the pay increases for 4 very well paid administrative employees, and defends the restructuring. Please which way are you going to have it Mr Smith and compan?. County employees have already given numerous concessions in consideration of the current economy. When are you and the other board members going to acknowledge this and step up to making decisions that are in the best interest of this county instead of yourselves and administration. Oh, and when are the Commissioners going to be made to pay back monies they owe as they have been legally directed to do???
A A Resident
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.
"So for everyone complaining.. Have you ever worked 80 hour weeks while salaried, with no overtime?" Yup. Is it your claim that this is what the County people do on any kind of a regular basis?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.
So they are giving them raises because they have added responsibilities? Do these morons understand that for every reduction in people, it means OTHER employees have to pick up their slack. Even after taking pay cuts. RIDICULOUS.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.
So for everyone complaining.. Have you ever worked 80 hour weeks while salaried, with no overtime? How about 90 hour weeks? Work where you have no backup. That if you don't do it, it will not get done. Pressure. A lot of folks who make $65-$125K a year would love to be on an hourly plan where they get paid for the hours they work. Where they aren't always under the gun to deliver, with nobody to pickup the slack. Get up at 3AM every morning. In the office by 4:30AM. Sleeping in is getting to work at 6AM. Unions are critical, and I support them. But sometimes you need people who just get stuff done, and aren't focused about what is in their contract, in their job description, or getting paid for every hour, or whatever.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.
Ron Do you know for a fact that these county employee's on average work more than 40 hours a week? If so I do not have a problem. If the workload and hours increases and the pay were to stay the same it's not right. But if these employee's go home after an 8 hour day and then return the next morning to resume their work. Then I say no pay increase!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.
Yes often!!!!.....And my medical will cost me about $8,000 this year through my employer. My employer made over $20 billion this last year.....guess I shouldn't expect them to help out with medical insurance.....let alone pay overtime.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.
Yes i do; my day begins at 5:30 a.m. and i'm back home between 8:30 & 9 at night most days. I am salaried, no where near what these so called 'public servants' are compensated. And i have been given more responsabilty as positions have been eliminated over the past few years with 1 to 2% yearly increase... does that answer your question & there are MILLIONS more just like me out here doing this daily my friend.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.
I work that now. I am in commissioned sales. If something doesn't get sold my paycheck is ZERO. If working for over $100k per year is so horrible for these four people, they are free to find employment elsewhere.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.
I always wonder why elected officials support such ideas. I can only hope that the voters remember just what kind of leaders these people are.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.
But right now we don't have that policy," he said. "So until we develop a policy that addresses some of the concerns and considerations that are raised by this compensation, I don't think it would be right of us not to implement fairly the policy that we do have on the books." - Conan Smith, So in other words this is wrong but because the current policy says to do this we will just do it. Great leadership there Conan Did this policy come from Wayne county and Mr. Ficano by chance?? Just recalssify and give an increase. gee makes perfect sense, - Have to wonder what the commisioners really do ??
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.
Ryan, it's my understanding, from speaking from several county employees from different departments, that ALL non-union employees will be receiving up to 4% pay raises, not just those associated with this reorganization. Are you able to confirm this? WIth the budget issues we continue to have, you cannot negotiate 8 million dollars in paycuts from one portion of employees and then hand it back to other employees. The unions negotiated wage cuts, higher pension payments, loss of longevity pay and increased payment for health insurance coverage, in good faith that the county was in DIRE STRAITS. It's hard to fathom the intelligence level of a governing board that is able to negotiate these savings, but then hands the money back out to OTHER EMPLOYEES. Also, there are MANY county employees doing more work with less pay, yet the county has deemed that some deserve more money, and have taken it from other employees to give it to them. All I can say is "WOW, I know numerous county employees and they do not feel valued by this move, they feel betrayed. That's going to be great for all of us county residents who rely upon them for service. We need to vote out these county commissioners who talk budget shortfalls/dire straits threats to get their way with one hand, but then throw money out indiscriminately with their other hand. THEY are bad for business.
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.
The employees I know who are receiving the raises do NOT work in departments where this reorg was done.
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.
Conan, are you denying that non-union employees are receiving up to 4% wage increases? More than just the employees involved in the reorganization?
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:45 a.m.
Sandy, the information you have received is not accurate. The wage and benefit concessions offered by our labor unions are unilaterally applied to the non-union staff as well, across the board and including all of the employees, senior and junior, included in this reorganization. All of the staff are taking ten 'banked leave' days which results in approximately a 4.5% reduction in salaries. All of the staff are also contributing $75-$180/month toward medical benefits depending on the bargaining unit's agreement (non-union contributions are determined by the labor settlement in 2011 at $75/month). The County faced a $17M revenue shortfall this budget cycle, and the structural changes to our expenses provided by the labor savings from both union and nonunion staff were a valuable and, frankly, essential part of resolving that deficit.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.
I agree Sandy and I will try my best to help vote the County Commsioners who voted for this.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.
It's the same old story: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and government makes sure that it stays that way.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.
I don't mind people getting paid for their efforts and they should. The problem is skinning the workers at the bottom for financial reasons and then giving more at the top. Sounds like the big banks model of management is being used here.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.
It's corporatism run amuck in the public sector
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.
They can afford to give people raises, though they have insufficient funds to do their job: - Properly grade dirt roads - Sufficiently plow the roads and salt during a snowstorm (Jackson and Wayne Counties do a better job) - Fix decaying roads and bridges Please feel free to add more...
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.
Pay the HUMANE Society
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.
The Washtenaw County Road Commission is separate from Washtenaw County government (the Board of Commissioners); that may change, see <a href="http://annarbor.com/news/bill-to-allow-abolishing-road-commissions-headed-to-governor">http://annarbor.com/news/bill-to-allow-abolishing-road-commissions-headed-to-governor</a>.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.
And some think this group of "intellectuals" Can also run the Road Commission! Just think of the raises they would vote themselves.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.
Are you quoting something or just putting quotes around a word that you use derisively to describe people you don't like?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.
"The plan includes the elimination of 11 full-time positions, creation of nine new positions, reclassification of seven positions, and holding two positions vacant — for a net reduction of four jobs and $326,422 in savings to the county's general fund." Maybe I am in the minority but I find this to be some very good "double speak!" How many employee's will actually NOT be on the county payroll when this is done?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.
I could only think of the theme song from the Bennie Hill show playing while reading that exact sentence. its a politcal shell game
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.
Is anyone really surprised? Same old, same old.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.
I think it is unfair to give raises to a few select employees when most of the County employees gave up raises, had longevity cuts and increased insurance deductables. I will be considering this move by the County Commisioners when election time arrives and I hope others will also. That savings should be given back to the employees in wage increases or bonuses. This select group who will recieve raises already make over $100,000 per year. The Wastenaw County leadership is not setting the right example by doing this.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.
......$326,422 in savings to the county's general fund. I see a water fountain in the future.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.
They're deceiving you. There is no actual savings because of the money they're handing out in raises to all of the non-union employees. The real quesion still is, how much is this really COSTING?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.
Or another paved bike path.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.
The message this sends is that pay raises for top folks are paid for by concessions from the bottom folks. Do what I say, not what I do. This place is really getting messed up. Morale must be really high - not. Reading the AA Chronicle, seems that the county administrator also has her husband on the payroll as the county's attorney. Can things get even worse?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.
Apparently County Board Chairman Conan Smith also feel he should be improperly compensated for taking on additional duties. Unless he's finally paid that money back....
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.
I love how people on the one hand are always complaining about how the government takes too much of their money and on the other hand complain whenever the government fires someone or leaves a position unfilled. How do you think their salaries are paid? Yup, it's those taxes and fees you all like to complain about. Expenses for employee health care and defined benefits programs continue to rise while County income is shrinking. The County is facing the same budget problems as all Michigan municipalities. Makes sense to me to chop some people, give their work to someone else, and give those people a small raise for increasing their workload.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.
My complaint is: it is not clear how many current employees will not be on the payroll after this realignment. And I see more than a touch of hypocrisy on the part of the commissioners when they ask those at the lower end of the pay scale to take cuts and give raises to those more near the top of the pay scale. As for giving those with an increased workload "a small raise" Will they now be putting in MORE than 8 hours a day? No they will go home and come back the next day and resume their task! When I worked in construction there were some days (not enough) when I could coast through the work ( as I suspect happens with county workers) And other days when I could hardly walk at the end of the day! BUT I almost always worked 8 hours and I ALWAYS got paid the same for my 8 hours of work!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.
Or maybe I just prefer reason instead of emotion.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.
Sounds like maybe one of your family members will benefit from a raise!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.
"Anytime a position is reclassified, it's standard policy that the employee receives a step up in their pay grade, county officials said." These are not standard times. Sounds like a policy that need to be scrapped.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.
Very well said Jamie! These are not standard times and I am sure the county commissioners raised that point more than a few times when looking lower on the pay scale for concessions! It is absurd that the commissioners do not get it!
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.
"The plan includes the elimination of 11 full-time positions, creation of nine new positions, reclassification of seven positions, and holding two positions vacant — for a net reduction of four jobs and $326,422 in savings to the county's general fund". Nothing more than a 'spin' on justifying raises for a few, after taking away from the folks below.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.
"There's a fairness and equity consideration there that I think is really important from an institutional perspective," added County Board Chairman Conan Smith,...........What does Conan Smith know about fairness? An Auditor hired by the County, a hiring he supported, found that Conan Smith took improper expense reimbursements from the taxpayers. Yet Conan Smith refuses to pay the taxpayers back. Now he supports increasing the pay of a few.....and points to policy as being why it should happen. Conan Smith doesn't care about policy when it impacts him, but now he does. Government is so great, policy is something that only has to be applied as an option.
A A Resident
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.
Many people in the private sector have taken on additional responsibilities and workload without an increase in pay, or with a decrease in pay, in this economy. I'd like to know why some of the people at the top of the County pay scale should be exempt from the economic reality that so many others face. Are some of these people a little out of touch?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.
Please provide some facts to back up your claims on private sector wages. Public sector wages are public business. I'd like to know where you get your info to make such a blanket statement.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.
what a crock! we know what these people at the top do(little) 80/20 doesn't hurt when you make a hundred & twenty thousand a year.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.
the fact that the position has been open so long (since last June) also reinforces that the position was probably not needed to begin with
Stephen Lange Ranzini
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.
"Employees whose jobs are reclassified will see a 4 percent pay raise, which will apply to both union and non-union employees. Anytime a position is reclassified, it's standard policy that the employee receives a step up in their pay grade, county officials said." Well that is a policy that needs to be changed immediately! Giving raises to people at the top while taking concessions from people at the bottom of the organization is the reverse of what good managers do. Good managers lead by example. If there is a sacrifice to be made it should be shared. Bad management practices such as this will lead to an organization being demoralized and dysfunctional. Perhaps everyone involved other than the one commissioner who voted against this bad idea ought to read up on the principles of "servant leadership", which is proven to be the most effective management style?
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.
Dont start this class warfare or management warfare. Your post should say if one person take's a cut all take a cut whether they are at the top or bottom of the pay scale, union or non union. It makes no difference. Also dont blame these people. If my boss said you are the only one getting a raise this year I would take it. My family comes first.
Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.
Sorry, but your a little late on the whole demoralized and disfunctional. Two years with out raises, two years with pay decreases, and the next two years with a net 10% plus pay reductions. I pose this questions: with a reported 117 retirements, which means those left all have more work, does more work mean more responsibility?