Athens City Council Approves Non-Union Raise

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Athens City Council approved an additional 1 percent pay increase for non-union employees within the city, but the vote was not unanimous.

The legislation was introduced by Councilman Jeff Risner in an attempt to bring “equity” to city workers after some employees of the city auditor’s office received 3 and 4 percent raises in December, which were retroactive back to May 2014. Council had previously approved a 2 percent raise for non-union employees at the beginning of the year.

“This is an attempt to bring equity to remaining employees in the non-union pay scale,” Risner said on Monday, emphasizing that the raise would not address the many other issues such as a need for performance evaluations.

“This is simply a 1 percent pay raise,” he added. “I think they deserve it and we’re morally obligated to accept this.”

Former Athens councilman Ed Baum addressed Council prior to the vote, stating that he has taught personnel administration courses at Ohio University for several years.

“One should not address the system piecemeal…” Baum said. “If nothing else, I would encourage you to table this motion indefinitely, which will allow the mayor and personnel director to do their work and to come back before you with a system which is complete, sound and can be accepted by the citizens of Athens.”

Mayor Paul Wiehl was the one who requested the additional raise for non-union employees, claiming that morale was low following the raises in the auditor’s office. He said larger issues such as pay scale evaluation and job performance reviews had been delayed due to turnover in the city’s human resources director position.

Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran expressed concerns over the proposal.

“As I’ve stated before, I feel uncomfortable with this ordinance because I do feel like we’ve rushed forward with this response and, as Mr. Baum very coherently put, it’s like putting on a Band-Aid on a bigger issue…” she said.

Wiehl responded saying that the administration can only work so fast to address the other concerns.

“If you’re hemorrhaging do you wait for the right Band-Aid or do you just try stopping the flow of blood? From my point of view, we’re just trying to keep the morale going,” Wiehl said.
Council voted 5-2 to approve the raise, which is not retroactive. Cochran and Councilwoman Michele Papai voted against the ordinance.