Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, Dec. 30, 2022 @ 11:24 a.m. / Local Government

California's Minimum Wage Increase Prompts Changes, Raises for Some Del Norte County Staff; Union President Calls Salary Schedule Adjustment a 'Band-Aid'


Previously:

Del Norte Supes to Discuss Proposed Pay Freeze For Some Employees

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Though Del Norte County supervisors approved a pay freeze for miscellaneous and professional positions at the lowest end of the salary schedule, current employees will receive a wage increase.

The supervisors’ 3-0-2 vote on Thursday eliminated Step A on the county’s salary schedule for miscellaneous and professional employees, Assistant County Administrative Officer Randy Hooper. As a result — contrary to what the Wild Rivers Outpost reported on Wednesday — current staff will be moved to Step B on the salary schedule and new hires will start at Step B.

This means a biweekly pay increase from $1,212.17 to $1,267.37, or $15.84 per hour for staff who were in the Step A Range 24 classification, according to Hooper. Employees in the Range 25 classification will see their biweekly pay increase from $1,239 to $1,295.56, or $16.19 per hour, Hooper told the Outpost.

Supervisors Chris Howard and Dean Wilson were absent.

The Board’s action comes days before California’s hourly minimum wage is set to increase to $15.50 on Jan. 1. According to Hooper, the current salary schedule had positions that start at Step A earning below the new minimum wage.

This change in the salary schedule and pay increase will impact six employees and 10 classifications in the Del Norte County Employee Association Local SEIU 1021’s bargaining units, the union’s president, Norma Williams, told county supervisors.

According to the side letter of agreement between the county and the Del Norte County Employees Association, the salary range adjustments will affect the following positions: Cook II, Custodian II, Eligibility Specialist I, Intake Worker I, Juvenile Correctional Technician I, Legal Clerk I, Legal Process Clerk I, Medical Records Clerk I, Office Assistant III, and Vocational Assistant I.

Starting Jan. 1, newly hired employees in a classification with a pay range of 24 or 25 shall be compensated at Step B of the salary schedule. However, if it’s difficult to find someone or if the candidate is a person of “unusually high qualifications,” the Board of Supevisors could appoint at a higher step, but no higher than Step C, according to the side letter.

But while the DNCEA agreed to the change, Williams called it a band-aid to an ongoing problem that’s existed in Del Norte County for years.

“This is something we’ve always been concerned about,” she said, referring to the need to update the salary schedule ahead of minimum wage increases and to make it comparable with salaries in other counties. “Salaries is one of the primary reasons why we have a recruitment and retention problem in Del Norte County. It is very difficult to attract people, to hire people, who we really need to help this community and move it forward.”

Williams referred to a salary study the county recently paid $158,000 to conduct, saying they will meet with county staff next week to discuss its recommendations.

According to Hooper, that salary study was part of a 2021 agreement the county made with Maryland-based firm The Collective Good for strategic planning services primarily for the Department of Health and Human Services. The Collective Good also agreed to conduct a compensation analysis for all county departments, Hooper said.

The completed analysis has been sent to the Del Norte County Employees Association, Hooper said. The next step is for the county and the union to confer over the findings and to enter into negotiations, he said.

“It’s really preliminary,” Hooper told the Outpost. “The union has it and the Board has it. The next step in the process is likely to be conversations related to the salary survey and what that means for our salary schedule.”

Williams said the report stated that 65 county positions were more than 10 percent low market and 49 of those positions are represented by the DNCEA.

“I need to take it seriously and I’m wanting the Board of Supervisors, this incoming new Board, to take it seriously,” she said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”


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