Friday, July 20, 2012

Municipal brass see pay balloon

Employees
numbers going down, costs of upper mangement going up.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The link to the story doesn't work, John

Municipal brass see pay balloon said...

The link to the story:
http://www.nsnews.com/news/Municipal+brass+balloon/6948887/story.html

Anonymous said...

Link works fine.

Why do these bureaucrats continue to make more and more money while the rest of us do not? And we pay for their increases.

Taxpayer

Anonymous said...

"Why do these bureaucrates continue to make more and more money..."

The last contract signed by Council with the DNV CUPE union agreed to an 18 1/2% wage increase over 5 years. Those wages have benefits attached to them. Sick time, pension contributions etc that increase in cost with the wages. That contract has expired and the union will now bargain from the new base amount. That is the highest contractual salary amount will now become the starting position for more increases.

Management has to make more money than union members as they have greater responsibility, normally higher education, and lack the protection against discipline and termination that is afforded union members. If they didn't then you'd be better off to stay in the union than become a "bureaucrat."

So until we have Councils that stand up to the unions, we will have upward spiralling salary and benefit costs for all staff, management included.

This becomes especially problematic in places like NV City where the unions heavily contribute to the election campaigns of the politicians although the unions were major contributors to the unsucessful former fireman DNV candidate last election.

The local unions are organized regionally through their provincial and national parent bodies.

The lower mainland cities lack similar organization as many have opted out of regional bargaining undertaken by Metro Vancouver negotiators. This lack of organization predictably results in a patchwork of agreements, each union trying to ratchet "extras" for their city that the union next door can pursue in the next round of negotiations.

So until the lower mainland gets back to a regional bargaining model and the Councils grow a collective spine the out-of-control increases will continue.

As staff wages and benefits comprise the major operational budget item in each city then these costs have a direct relationship to our annual tax increases.

Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

We, in the private sector, are working in the wrong jobs.

Anonymous said...

"So until the lower mainland gets back to a regional bargaining model and the Councils grow a collective spine the out-of-control increases will continue."

You seem to know a lot about the process, but you are missing a critical piece. The regional bargaining model known as the Labour Relations Bureau produced the last lousy contract (18.76% compounded over 5years).

The contract was originally 3% for 2007, 3% for 2008, and 3.5% for 2009, which was close to the expected CPI based on the information at the time. The problem was that the Olympics were two months after the end of the contract which would have made for a very tense labour situtation in the region. There was some discussion about a 39 month contract to get past the olympics, but it wouldn't have been acceptable to the union at any price. Instead the term of the contract was extended through 2010 and 2011. (See <a href="http://www.lrb.bc.ca/cas/WTF1.pdf>Agreement</a>)

The latter two years were at 4% per year, or about 1% over the predicted CPI.

It should also be noted that when the 5 year agreement was signed, it was not signed by the Council. Under the old LRB the Councils authorized the LRB staff to sign the agreement as long as it was within the regional mandate set by the LRB Board.

One last note of context on the 2007 agreement. Everyone was predicting a huge shortage of employees. Public sector staff were being poached to the private sector, and boomer retirements were going to kick in. Obviously the downturn in '08 changed all of that but this is the risk you accept when you negotiate a long term agreement.

How about we stick to two year agreements for a bit.

Anonymous said...

So the brass is paying attention to this little blog again. Good sign!

Anonymous said...

Agreement

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17.

"The regional bargaining model known as the LRB produced a lousy contract."

You left out the critical piece.

Certain lower mainland munis decided to sidestep the LRB and negotiate agreements on their own ratified through their councils.

Once that happened they set the stage for a base wage increase that was generous to say the least. That being the case the LRB was hamstrung by the independent juridictions in that the munis standing firm with the LRB would have certainly been defeated had they held out to arbitration as the arbitrators would have simply awarded mirrors of the agreements already ratified by councils.

Yes, the agreements are still ratified by councils though they may be signed by others which is simply a technicality. Councils hold the aces in whether or not to even allow the LRB to negotiate on their behalf and what agreement they will ratify. That buck cannot be passed.

Yes, the unions squeezed the employers with the threat of job action during the upcoming Olympics. Timing is everything.

There is no strength in disunity. Just look at how successful the unions have been.

Councils get back to a unified front as divide and conquer is killing the taxpayers.

Yes, two year agreements would be nice but it takes two to negotiate.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:43 Friday
Management has greater responsibility? How so? They use consultants at every turn. Accountability is a rare occurrence in local government. It is easy to use consultants as scapegoats.

Management normally higher education? True if you mean how to form a bureaucracy that is accountable to other managers but completely unaccountable to the tax payer.

Anyone can be terminated or disciplined be it management or union. Think constructive dismissal easy to implement difficult to prove.

Management is provided a very lucrative benefit package that includes paid overtime, long term disability. 6-8 weeks paid vacation from the get go. 6 months sick time from the get go. It goes on and on.

The process starts from the top. Lead by example. The salaries of management are the examples.

Anonymous said...

Yes, management has a greater responsibility. Management is responsible for proprer safety policy and procedure and ensuring that staff utilize same, budget expenditures, short and long term planning, implementing council's directions, effective supervision resulting in acceptable service levels.

They do not have the protection of the union in disciplinary cases. The are accountable and are terminated (anyone remember Gord Howie? DNV Manager terminated after Northlands scandal?)

The day to day grind of management is not undertaken by consultants. Consultants are employed for special reports and information. Two different things.

Managers are required to have extensive education and experience in their field of expertise plus education in management such that they are entirely accountable to the taxpayer, especially financially, through the annual budget review wherein their expenditurres are approved or rejected by the taxpayer's elected representatives.

Anyone can be terminated? Take a look at the multiple chances given union members, the grievances the arbitratioins that overturn or reduce discipline to union members and the naked vulnerability of managers.

Management's lucrative benefit package is based upon the union's negotiated package.

We have hundreds of highly paid union members managed by a few more highly paid managers. The bulk of the cost to the taxpayers is from the union wages and benefits.

So the point still stands. Rein in the union wages and benefits and you will automatically rein in the management's as they simply are paid in excess of their subordinates.

Yes, the process starts at the top. The top of the municipal pyramid are the councils. When they decide to stand united with other councils and hold the line against increases that exceed the CPI for the majority of employees, which are the unionists, then the small group of management will similarly be checked.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Management total wages are peanuts compared to the hundreds of union members total wages and benefits.

Forget looking at a few trees lets focus on the forest.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:41

Forget looking at a few trees let’s focus on the forest?

In a forest a few trees can be very lucrative. Try comparing the price of cotton wood to yellow cedar. You will probably log the yellow cedar first.

Anonymous said...

Huh?

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the city for not replacing the recently vacated "Director of Corporate Services" position.

Shame on the city for creating this redundant do nothing position in the first place.

Net savings for tax payer 183,000.00. Next…

Anonymous said...

Two DNV General Managers terminated in 2011 from a pool of 4 GMs.

Yeah, the union and managers are held to the same standard and have the same protection against termination. Sure.

Anonymous said...

I thought the DCS position was replaced by Richard White, Deputy City Manager? 2011 was 169.893 plus benefits plus probably a raise for the promotion.. savings??

Anonymous said...

The last few times I was put on hold at DNV hall the excuse always was: "We're short staffed."

As a DNV property owner I find this disconcerting and manipulative.

Anonymous said...

So you want to pay higher taxes so that there can be staff to look after your needs immediately?

Anonymous said...

4:19 you are failing miserably.

Anonymous said...

Amalgamation is the only solution

Anonymous said...

Amalgamation will help reduce costs by reducing the duplication of management personnel and thus sharing in their cost between the current taxbase.

The majority of the unionized personnel will be retained in order to deliver service.

Point being, yes amalgamation will have some effect on cost reduction but the cadre of management personnel is very small when compared to the union membership.

The majority of operational costs rests with the union and, in fact, wrestling back union increases in excess of CPI is the only solution.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17
Do you have a breakdown of operational costs of union vs management? Do you have any numbers on how many higher paid HR,IT, Finance, etc, etc. union jobs that may be be eliminated if amalgamation was achieved? Are the majority of the unionized personnel helping to deliver services at the top of the wage scale or bottom?

Anonymous said...

Union vs mgt. Approx 80/20.

No union in HR for obvious reasons.

Top paid in IT and Finance non-union and they are rather small Divisions with a few union members.

Largest union memberships in Engineering and Fire Dept.

See CUPE contract posted on this site that shows wage rates for various union paybands (length of service). Personnel scattered throughout bands but all employees with 5 or more years of seniority are at or approach the high end for their job description.