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Negotiator Says Pay Raises Granted Erratically

July 24, 2004 – Karen M. Andrews, Office of Collective Bargaining chief negotiator, had harsh words and a suggested change in law for senators Friday, as she defended the government's position on retroactive raises.
Presenting her budget request to the Senate Finance Committee, Andrews said there is no use bargaining for raises when there is no money for them.
"I ask you," Andrews said, "is it negotiating in good faith when we all know we cannot afford to do so? At a minimum, shouldn't the law (Title 24, Sec. 374 {h}) be changed to say that the appropriation of sustainable revenues are appropriated in advance of negotiations?"
The Legislature and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull have a history of discord over raises for government employees. The Legislature appropriates money for raises; the governor vetoes the raises because he says there is no funding to cover them; the Legislature more often than not, overrides the governor's veto.
She said, "Approximately $2.9 million was appropriated recently to pay the 2,342 members of the American Federation of Teachers Union and the Education Administrator's Union for fiscal year 2004 negotiated increases."
Turnbull approved that appropriation.
"Last Tuesday, $9 million was again appropriated to pay 1,628 member of ten bargaining units. The Senate also approved pay increases for its central staff employees," Andrews said. Turnbull vetoed the $9 million, but the Senate overrode the veto. See – Senate Says Workers Will Get Raises .
"On Wednesday," Andrews continued, "Territorial Presiding Judge Maria Cabret requested 10.5 percent payroll increase for Territorial Court employees. Judge Raymond Finch requested $19,000 for cost-of-living raises and salary increments for the Judicial Council's 11 employees."
Andrews said the government owes money for retroactive wages. "Our options are few," she said. "Should we continue to schedule contract negotiations with the 21 bargaining units with expired contracts by the end of this fiscal year, irrespective of the government's financial standing?" Andrews asked. "Or should we put negotiations on hold pending an upturn of the government's financial picture?"
The governor has submitted legislation for a two-year moratorium on wage negotiations but it has been turned down by the Legislature.
Andrews said the method for determining raises for union employees "is not working effectively."
"In reality," she said, "salaries are determined by the competence and voracity of the individual union leaders, the political climate, the classification of positions and number of members represented by a union, and the availability of a reliable funding source and timing."
She said these circumstances have "contributed immensely to inequitable frequency of salary increases for some employees, erratic and inequitable salary patterns for employees with identical training, seniority and responsibilities, but with different union affiliation."
In a plea for cohesiveness, Andrews concluded: "History will not be kind to us if we allow the challenges we now face to pit brother against brother, exempt employee against classified employee, executive branch against Legislative or Judicial branch, private sector against government. We are all in this boat together."
Andrews presented a budget request of $424,140, which she said is a 3.1 percent reduction from 2004. She presented an unusual statistic: 3.5 percent of the budget, or $14, 971 is for paper, copier and facsimile equipment. "The OCB is a paper intensive organization, providing copies of contract to all agencies," she said.
Kevin Rodriguez, newly confirmed Office of Personnel director, also presented his budget request Friday morning. He requested a $2.5 million budget for his department which oversees six smaller divisions, and employs 42 people.
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