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37th District Court Employees receive wage, step increases through GELC

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: March 24, 2017


— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor

When 37th District Court Employees heard Warren City Hall Employees were looking for new representation, they also sought to make a move. Staying united with other Warren employees was important to them.

“They weren’t very responsive to us,” said 37th District Court Clerk and local Union Steward Kris Barnes about American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) representatives. “We didn’t have big problems like City Hall did with them, but they weren’t answering our grievances in a timely manner. It took six months. I personally felt we needed to stay with whoever the city (employees) went with so we could have good bargaining power.”

The 27-member group voted to join the Government Employees Labor Council (GELC) in April 2016.

“We actually had people out here talking to our employees. We had representatives from GELC and AFSCME …” Barnes said. “We were impressed (with GELC) so we brought it back to our employees. …and in the end the majority ruled.”

“We just settled (contracts with) all three units,” said GELC Labor Rep. Chet Kulesza of the Court, General Employees, and Supervisors units. “They were with AFSCME a long time. They weren’t getting any service. That was their complaint. They weren’t really paying attention to them.”

In August, the GELC settled a three-year contract for the Clerks, which followed the same significant pay increases the Supervisor and General Employees received, with one added bonus. Not only did the group get 7.5 percent raises over the next three years and a 2 percent matching HSA contribution from the Employer, they were also able to advance two of the Court Clerk positions to a higher salary grade.

“We got the same pay raises as the City, increase to the HSA like the City, and they changed our classifications a little,” Barnes said. “The two top classifications put an extra slot in and took two (positions) out of the bottom slot so people could move up to higher pay quicker.”

Two positions were moved from the entry classification of File Clerk to the two highest paid positions, Clerk One and Clerk Two. This pay scale change, combined with the pay increases, helps 37th District Court Clerks make up lost ground from significant pay cuts made for new hires in 2010. “Before 2010, the starting wage was $37,500 for File Clerks and went up from there,” Barnes said.

File Clerks hired after 2010 started at $30,000; followed by Typists at $36,000; Court Clerk One at $39,000; and Court Clerk Two at $41,000 before the raises were implemented.

Since clerk’s are promoted based on seniority, Barnes said, “It takes 20 years to get to the top (of the pay scale), so they’re making it bigger so they could get there quicker.”