Survey says...Vancouver managers weren't in support of pay cuts unless everyone felt the pain
On Friday we found out that Vancouver's city managers had agreed to delay their 4% pay increase as a measure to help balance the budget. At the time it appeared this decision was put forward by the management team as a collective goodwill measure to help shore up the City's finances.
Over the weekend, CityCaucus.com was contacted by a number of city managers who are royally upset with City Manager Penny Ballem's move to take $650,000 out of their jeans. One of those managers even sent us the results of an internal survey which bears proof that not everyone saw eye-to-eye with Ballem's decision.
Some of the managers are upset with the fact that none of the $650,000 will actually end up saving a single public service job. Rather, all of the money will be tucked away in a rainy day fund (aka contingency fund) instead.
Other managers are furious the feedback they provided to VACMPS (management's bargaining unit) was basically ignored. We previously broke the news that the city managers were being surveyed to determine their appetite for a salary claw back. If the survey results are accurate, they do not paint the same picture Ballem portrayed last Friday in her staff report.
According to an internal memo we obtained, 86% of all respondents said they would be opposed to a rollback in management wages unless they were applied across the board to unionized employees as well. Here is a copy of that memo:
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 2:51 PM
To: Staff Eligible for VACMPS - DL; Staff Eligible for VACMPS (Police) - DL; Staff Eligible for VACMPS (Library) - DL
Subject: VACMPS - Summary of feedback from 2010 wage survey
Thank you to all those who participated in the recent survey we had an excellent response rate. It should be noted that using Survey Monkey in the openly accessible format we prepared did create a few challenges. This in turn caused some delays in summarizing the responses and your patience is appreciated.
As I am sure you are aware, the survey was based on the question posed to exempt staff by the City Manager at the Nov 12, 2009 "Connecting the Dots" meeting. At that meeting exempt staff were asked to forego or delay a portion of the 4% increment agreed to for 2010.
I wanted to provide a quick summary of the feedback we received. The information below is a summary of your responses. It should be noted that some survey responses were omitted (e.g. duplicates or where the author could not be confirmed).
To the question:
I would be prepared to forego all or a portion of the 2010 wage increase in order to reduce the number of staff impacted by the Operating Budget reductions providing the full amount of the savings is directed toward this purpose:
The percentage response received was:
A. Yes, but only if the similar concessions were applied to all staff. 44%
B. Yes, regardless of whether other staff groups agreed to similar concessions 14%
C. No 42%
Of those answering YES to the above, 88% suggested that only a portion of the 4% wage increase should be considered.
Interesting items arising from reviewing the data:
· subject to concessions being applied to all staff, almost 60% (58%) of respondents stated that they would be willing to forego all or a portion of the 2010 wage increase.
- that a significant number of respondents noted that any concession of the 2010 wage increase should include all staff group
- the potential for savings would be that much more
· that a significant number of respondents suggested that only a portion of the 2010 wage increase should be considered.
Other comments and concerns received:
+ Potential impact to pension (e.g. top 5 years of earnings)
+ Deferral is preferred as has been done in some previous years. Could be phased in over 2010 (e.g. 2% Jan 1st, and 2% July 1st)
+ Potential for wage compression (deferral versus foregoing increase)
+ Similar budget challenge noted for 2011 – long term solution needed for operating costs related to all wages
This information is being shared with you and has been discussed with Patrice Impey, General Manager of Financial Services and Human Resource Services.
Other than verbal discussions regarding this survey and the related results, you should also know that VACMPS is not aware of any initiative to use the 2010 or 2011 wage increase as a tool to help balance the current operating budget. Should we learn any new information, we will share it with you.
One of the managers we spoke to on the condition of anonymity was pretty blunt with their assessment of what just transpired:
To say my colleagues and I feel betrayed by the City Manger is an understatement. We never thought that she would claw back our wages only to stuff those savings in a bank account. It was the equivalent of putting a lump of coal in our stockings and wishing us Merry Christmas. There is simply no trust left between her and most of the management team.
With City Hall about to shut down for the holidays this week, there clearly remains a smell of bitterness lingering in the air. This has been a tough year at 12th and Cambie, and it doesn't look like 2010 will get much better any time soon.