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Winter 2013-14

Enumclaw workers awarded 'me-too' 2% pay increase

by anonymous on January 11, 2014

AN ARBITRATOR has ordered the City of Enumclaw to grant a 2 percent pay increase to those of its employees who are members of Council 2.

The arbitrator, Howell L. Lankford, ruled that increases given to non-union employees on January 1, 2013, should be given to union employees, too, under the “me-too” provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.

In his ruling, Lankford found that individual increases given to non-represented employees were, in effect, a general rate increase, but it was covered up by calling them step increases.

If the City had simply unfrozen the non-represented employees as it argued — that is, had allowed each non-represented employee to rise a step on his or her anniversary date — the resulting increase might have avoided triggering the me-too provision, Lankford said.

But, in fact, the City used the step structure to give its non-represented workforce an across-the-board rate increase, not on their respective anniversary dates as the step concept requires, but all together on January 1, 2013.

Lankford added that the City said the non-represented employees had been in a hard freeze, having received neither cost-of-living nor step increases since 2009. But that justification equally well supports the unfreezing of steps or a general wage increase.

The increase was within the scope of what the City had assured the union it would not be able to afford during the life of the new collective bargaining agreement, Lankford said, and it triggered the me-too provision of the agreement.

Senior Counsel Audrey Eide represented Council 2 in the hearing.