Most of Tacoma’s approximately 900 nonunion city workers could receive raises if the City Council gives the nod this week.
Recent salary surveys suggest many of the city’s managers, directors and other nonunion workers are underpaid compared to peers at government and private organizations, city officials say.
In January, the City Council approved the first pay increase in five years for nonrepresented employees in an attempt to help them catch up with the rest of the city workforce. The city’s more than two dozen unions had bargained for consistent wage increases during the recession.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax said Friday the pending raises will help nonunion worker wages catch up further.
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Nonunion workers will receive increases of up to 6 percent in both 2015 and 2016 only if they are considered underpaid. A handful of city workers who are underpaid and also supervise people who make more than them could receive a wage increase of up to 10 percent in January, with a lower raise the following year, if council approves.
Nonunion workers who are within their first few years of employment at the city also will continue to receive “step” increases. And all nonunion workers will see a cost-of-living raise based on the consumer price index in 2016, Broadnax said.
Paying the market-based wage increases will cost about $10.6 million. About half of that amount, $5.5 million, is for raises at Tacoma Public Utilities. The city’s 2015-2016 budget is estimated at $3.1 billion.
The city also has set aside $17.2 million in the next two years to give raises to the city’s roughly 2,700 union workers. This includes money for increases to contracts that are not yet settled, such as police and fire unions, Broadnax said.
Tacoma’s Human Resources Director Joy St. Germain said her office has worked on the nonrepresented wage increase plan since the council approved the last round of raises in January.
TPU Director Bill Gaines, the city’s highest wage earner, will see the biggest pay increase of any employee. Currently paid $319,000 per year, he will see a 6 percent increase in each of 2015 and 2016. By 2016 he will make $358,500. TPU Spokeswoman Chris Gleason said Gaines’ salary was compared to executives at public utility companies.
The city manager’s salary is not addressed in the ordinance the council will consider this week. It approves his salary separately, usually after his annual review.