Teamsters’ employees will not get raises in Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County, which was poised to give salary increases to hundreds of employees — union members and others — instead will give them only to some non-union workers.

The nonunion employees who will receive raises are those whose paychecks were deemed too low by consultants who looked at pay of government employees elsewhere.

In all, 56 out of 95 nonunion Hernando County employees will receive salary adjustments, retroactive to Sept. 29. The raises total $321,277, and range from $15.18 annually to $17,842.

Cristi Charlow, the county’s risk manager, is at the top of the compensation range. Her salary will increase from $41,562 annually to $59,404. Human Resources Manager Jerry Haines said Charlow’s salary was adjusted because her title changed from risk specialist to manager and she took on added duties.

The county administrator’s office recently rescinded a news release stating the county was giving salary increases averaging $3,411 per year, per employee, to 348 of 523 county employees — not including Firefighters Local 3760, which opted not to be part of the package.

But on Wednesday the county received a memorandum from John Sholtes, business agent for Teamsters Local 79, saying salary negotiations are not the purview of the county and if raises were handed out, they should go to everyone. That affected 435 union employees.

County commissioners unanimously approved a study by Evergreen Solutions which included compensation recommendations for fiscal year 2014-15 and included a new pay plan.

“Each position was assigned a pay grade based on job description evaluation, employee and supervisor comments and market information,” said Public Information Manager Virginia Singer.

But Sholtes stated in a memo that adjusting employee wages constitutes a material change in the employee’s working conditions and, by law, that change is subject to bargaining.

The Evergreen Study contains no uniform increases, only individual classification adjustments, he said.

“I must say that I am disappointed at the recklessness and complete lack of respect you have shown our negotiating committee and our organization with your actions,” Sholtes said.

Adrienne Johnston, a manager of Evergreen Solutions, told commissioners her company compared Hernando County workers to other public sector operations. Evergreen included 27 market peers responding to 50 benchmark job titles. The study considered factors such as geographic proximity and population size.

George Zoettlein, assistant county administrator of budget and business development, said the county had planned to accommodate the raises from money paid into the county’s paid-time-off buy-back program.

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