GovGuam’s New Pay Scale Brings Rash Of Grievances

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GovGuam’s New Pay Scale Brings Rash Of Grievances Nearly 25% of Education employees challenge implementation

By Amanda Francel Blas

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 14, 2014) – Out of the Department of Education's close to 4,000 employees, 983 have filed grievances over the implementation of the Competitive Wage Act, which adjusted the government of Guam's pay scale.

"All of them moved through the department's review process, so they should be with the Civil Service Commission by now," DOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said.

When the Competitive Wage Act was implemented in February, 2,113 educators received pay raises, raising concerns about how the pay raises affected those with seniority.

To address concerns with the implementation of the Competitive Wage Act, Fernandez said, the Department of Administration has set up an appeal and review process.

"We have informed employees of this option, and if they'd like us to assist in going forward with an appeal, we can," Fernandez said.

However, Fernandez said some of the education department's employees have opted to use the grievance process.

This includes members of the Guam Federation of Teachers, with the union's contract dictating the use of the grievance process, according to GFT President Tim Fedenko.

Fedenko said its members are currently going through hearings with the Civil Service Commission.

"The teachers' step are being lowered by the new Competitive Wage Act, so we believe they have been demoted," Fedenko said. "This is why we're moving forward with the grievances."

Other agencies

Concerns about the new pay scale extend beyond the school system.

The Office of Public Accountability is one of the government agencies that will appeal to the Department of Administration over inadequacies in implementing the Hay Study.

"Even with the implementation of the Hay Study in February 2014, the salary levels for OPA audit supervisors is still not competitive to salaries offered by GWA and other autonomous agencies," Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks said.

The pay grades were created through a study conducted by the Hay Group in 2010, during the Camacho administration. The Department of Administration's human resources division further adjusted the Hay Group's plan under the Calvo administration, which is now in the last year of its four-year term.

The Hay Group acknowledged that its revised pay scale still is below the national average for those jobs, but said GovGuam cannot afford to pay nationally competitive salaries.

Employees have 90 days from March 4 to file an appeal to their supervisors.

GovGuam agency supervisors who receive appeals will review the documents before sending them to the agency head, who can deny the request.

The employee, however, can appeal with the Administration Department, the appeal form states.

The Department of Administration will start accepting those forms in early June to start the review process at the agency.

Because of the low pay the OPA doesn't have enough skilled auditors to issue as many audits as she would like to do, Brooks said, noting her office staff conducted only six audits last year. Financial audits are contracted out.

Brooks said her office paid a personnel consultant to re-evaluate the office's positions descriptions and propose higher compensation.

"We will join a number of agencies that are appealing to the Department of Administration inadequacies in the Hay Study," she said.

The study will be given to the governor and the Legislature for their review and approval, she said.

Department of Public Works Director Carl Dominguez said as of this week no one had filed an appeal with him. But he said that could change as the deadline to file appeal is in the coming weeks.

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