Compensation increases coming for 119 Luzerne County non-union workers

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | January 3rd, 2016 10:38 pm

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

An estimated 119 non-union Luzerne County employees will receive pay increases this month, county officials said.

The county’s outside analysis concluded the compensation for the positions held by these workers is below industry standards.

This analysis looked only at positions and job duties — not the performance of workers in them. As a result, the administration rejects the characterization that these are raises.

“It’s bringing folks to the minimum of fair compensation for their grade level,” said county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik.

The 2016 budget adopted by the county council last month included $700,000 for the position increases. A few council members criticized the pay increases and said the compensation analysis was flawed, but none formally proposed an amendment to strip the salary adjustments from the budget.

The administration is trying to include the raises in the Jan. 8 paychecks, Parsnik said.

There’s no immediate plan to provide merit-based raises to non-union employees based on performance evaluations.

Many non-union employees have gone seven years without a raise, including some in positions that were not recommended for adjustment in the outside analysis.

Johnstown-based HR Consultants, which completed the analysis, studied 163 positions and recommended no change for 44.

The 119 positions recommended for increases included 11 in which non-union employees were supervising unionized workers who earned more than them, which it calls “salary compaction.”

“Salary compaction has a negative impact on recruitment and retention of supervisory personnel and has strongly impacted the Luzerne County Correctional Facility,” the administration has said in a communication to the council.

Several non-union workers, including a few prison employees, had walked out of an October county council meeting in frustration when a council majority rejected an initial proposal to provide the increases in the fall.

Nineteen non-union positions at the prison were recommended for increases ranging from $3,000 to $11,530, the analysis said.

County Chief Public Defender Steven Greenwald told the council in October he had accepted his 14th resignation of an employee — over 33 percent of his staff resigned in less than three years — due to compensation concerns.

Greenwald had cited an office manager who makes less than two or three of the seven secretaries he supervises and a chief investigator who performs the same work as a unionized county detective while receiving a significantly lower salary.

The analysis recommended increases ranging from $9,380 to $18,420 for three non-union positions in the public defender’s office. With the increases, the three positions will pay the following annually, the analysis says: chief investigator, $51,540; deputy chief investigator, $44,100; and office administrator, $40,280.

Compensation increases over $12,000 were recommended for 22 non-union positions in various county departments, the analysis said.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.