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Pomona Ignores Arbitrator, Grants 8% Pay Increase

January 30, 1986|PAT BRENNAN | Times Staff Writer

POMONA — Ignoring the recommendations of an arbitrator, the City Council this week approved an average 8% salary increase for management-level employees, although it has so far refused to negotiate any raise for non-management workers.

The arbitrator, William S. Rule, recommended in December that non-management employees, also known as general service employees, receive 6% raises by July 1 and that any raise for managers be postponed until that date because of the city's growing financial problems.

"To give a privilege to one group while denying it to another could be perceived as unfair, if not actually unfair," he said in a recent telephone interview.

So disturbed was Rule by the city's financial woes that he also suggested that it impose an assessment district and lay off an unspecified number of city employees.

His Ideas Not Binding

Rule, hired jointly by an association of general service employees and the city to mediate their stalled salary negotiations, did not indicate what he thought the management raises should be. His suggestions are not binding under the city Charter.

The general service employees are asking for a commitment from the city for some type of raise this fiscal year, but so far the city has offered only 6% in fiscal 1986-87.

Mayor G. Stanton Selby was angered by the report, contending that Rule was hired only to mediate the salary dispute with general service employees and that all his other recommendations were improper.

The management raise, approved by a 3-2 vote at a Monday evening study session, will provide an average 8% increase for management employees beginning March 1. The raises are retroactive to Feb. 1 because the council action cannot take effect for 30 days.

Before the raise, management employees' pay ranged from $22,788 to $70,860 a year.

Council members Mark Nymeyer and Donna Smith dissented, saying they had reservations about an in-house salary survey upon which the increases were based. The survey conducted by city staff members compared salaries in Pomona to those in cities of comparable size and determined the amount of salary increases.

"You don't let the people who will benefit from a raise figure out how much the raise will be," Nymeyer said before the vote was taken.

Suspicions Allayed

Smith, who persuaded the council to delay a decision when the matter was first considered in September, said most of her suspicions about the way the survey was conducted--most notably, her initial fear that some information was deliberately hidden from the council--have been allayed.

"All that time I felt like there was a train whistle blowing and I was being railroaded," Smith said.

But she said she voted against the measure because it would allow a 15% difference between a supervisor's salary and that of his highest-paid employee, which she considered too great. The measure approved by the council includes the 15% gap, but also leaves open the possibility of changing the figure later. The council agreed to study that matter and to postpone the raise of City Administrator Ora Lampman, one of those who helped put the salary survey together, until it has decided whether the 15% gap is too much.

Lampman would have received a 2% raise, bringing his yearly salary to $72,228.

The three council members who approved the measure--Selby, Jay Gaulding and Vernon Weigand--said they were convinced the salary survey had been conducted objectively.

'It's Sour Grapes'

Weigand said that the management "adjustment" was part of a process that began in 1981 with general service workers, who received upward adjustments from then until January, 1985, and that any perception of unfairness was tantamount to ignoring the facts.

"It's sour grapes and very unprofessional," Weigand said. "It speaks of, 'I want mine and nobody else gets any.' "

At a meeting Tuesday night of the Pomona City Employees Assn., the man hired to represent the group in contract negotiations urged city workers not to give up.

"If we give up they're going to win," said Robert Elliot, general manager of the San Bernardino Public Employees Assn. "What they did to you should be illegal."

Alicia Alvarez, president of the Pomona group that hired Elliot to help represent them, shared Elliot's anger.

"We paid for arbitration, we got the decision back and the city said, 'Oh, well, so what,' " Alvarez said.

Elliot advised the employees to endorse all of Rule's suggestions in the hope of stepping up pressure on the city to concede a raise.

'Beyond His Jurisdiction'

Weigand, other council members and administrators have maintained that management adjustments are separate from contract negotiations with non-management workers, and that Rule was operating "beyond his jurisdiction" when he addressed the matter in his Dec. 27 report.

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