Politics & Government

Tacoma council likes new nonunion pay hike plan

Tacoma City Council members voiced approval for giving pay raises to the city’s nonunion workforce for the first time in five years. A final decision could happen next week.

Tuesday night’s discussion was starkly different from one last May, when the City Council turned down raises ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent for workers at Tacoma Public Utilities.

More modest by comparison, this proposal would make 837 nonunion city and utility employees eligible for raises of up to 3 percent. The size of an employee’s raise would depend on whether his or her current pay is judged “below market” and how far below.

Most would also receive a one-time, lump-sum payment equal to 1 percent of their salary.

“Last year when the topic came before us, I couldn’t support it because it was singling out one group of employees,” said Councilman Ryan Mello. “I think management listened to the concerns of the council and brought back a more modest proposal, and was also mindful of council concerns of it not being fair to all employees.”

Councilman David Boe pointed out that managers in the city took a 5 percent pay cut for a year during the five-year period.

For bosses who face “compression issues” — when a top manager receives less pay than his or her subordinates — the city would give a flat 4 percent wage increase. Those employees would not receive the one-time bonuses.

If the council approves the change Tuesday, pay raises would go into effect on Feb. 17. The wage increase and bonuses would cost the city $2.6 million through the rest of the year. Of that amount, TPU would pay $1.5 million to its employees, with the city paying the remaining $1.1 million.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542