By Trevor Busch
The town’s non-union employees, largely management staff, will be seeing a one per cent salary increase retroactive to 2015.
Following in camera (closed session) discussion at their Dec. 21 meeting, town council voted unanimously to approve a one per cent increase in salaries for the Town of Taber’s non-unionized employees for the year 2015, with the increase to be paid retroactively from Jan. 1, 2015.
“I think it was a fiscally responsible move, and it established parity with the CUPE increase, so I think in that regard it was the right decision,” said CAO Greg Birch, in an interview following council’s Dec. 21 meeting. “Many of our employees have a skill set similar to people in the general working population. But others have a skill set that is very specific to municipalities, and we are in a competitive environment. So I think the one per cent was a good decision for council to have made for 2015. We also have to be cognizant that if we are not creating a remuneration environment for employees that is equal to our competitors — if we’re not in the same ballpark — then we risk losing our good employees.”
Passed by council following closed session (in camera) portion of the Oct. 13 regular meeting, the contract with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2038 saw a one per cent increase retroactive to 2015, another one per cent increase for 2016, followed by a three per cent increase for 2017.
Municipalities need to exercise fiscal restraint when considering the economic conditions currently prevailing in the province, according to Mayor Henk DeVlieger.
“It’s one per cent, and I think because they didn’t have anything for years,” said DeVlieger in an interview last week. “It’s below the inflation rate. We have to be careful right now with wage increases, especially with the way the economy is.”
Managers for the Town of Taber are not in a union environment, and therefore salary increases are not — strictly speaking — negotiated or bargained, but are arrived at by other means more common to employees in the private sector.
“Managers aren’t under a contract, except for myself, the police chief, and the police inspector,” said Birch. “t’s not a contract, but it sets out benefits and terms of employment for all non-unionized and non-contract staff, so that everybody is playing by the same set of rules. There’s a scale, or grid, for wages, so that grid was essentially moved up by one per cent. So it kind of looks like a union package, but it’s not. They don’t get to bargain.”
The non-union salary increase is retroactive for 2015 due to details surrounding the negotiation of the town’s CUPE contract that was finalized earlier in 2015.
“In theory, it gets looked at every year. We were behind for 2015, because the CUPE negotiations took so long and council didn’t want to corrupt that process by saying managers get whatever they get, in this case one per cent — they didn’t want to have that influence the CUPE agreement,” said Birch.
Mayor DeVlieger believes the town is contemplating a more structured approach to determining increases for non-union staff in future.
“Management has a one per cent wage increase for 2015, we had to approve that. They’ve actually been working for quite a while to come up with something long term. They have a committee going, because it’s not a union structure. So in the near future they will be coming up with something. I don’t know if that will be just a wage increase, or other items they’re looking at.”
Birch signalled that another increase for non-union employees is under consideration, as the current one per cent increase is only retroactive to 2015 and does not take into consideration any potential increase for 2016.
“The 2016 increase is up in the air. It has not been resolved.”