|Bethlehem Attorney Chris Spadoni|
These 15 workers are among 228 clerical employees for whom Brown sought wage hikes on April 16, arguing they were needed because the county has "struggled recruiting and maintaining staff in many of the clerical positions." At the time, he argued that the 4.5% raise "will result in a more fair and equitable pay rate that crosses non-union and union classifications." Deputy Administrator Cathy Allen told Council it would cost about $307,000, and would be above and beyond whatever was being negotiated in union contracts.
AFSCME business agent Justus James urged clerical workers to attend the April 16 meeting at which this raise was unanimously approved. Some of these 15 employees were there, and thanked Brown and Council.
Though Council unanimously approved the payhike, these 15 employees never got their raise.
Solicitor Ryan Durkin called it a "scrivener's error," a "payraise that was never intended to be made." Brown submitted a new resolution, explaining it "was never intended that the people at the top of the scale would be getting a 4.5% increase. My apologies to the people who were affected by this." He also argued, along with Mat Benol and Peg Ferraro, that it would create a precedent under which other pay grades would come in and demand increases, too. Benol called it a "slippery slope."
Council tabled the resolution at their July 1 meeting, suggesting that the parties negotiate. They refused to take it off the table at their July 16 meeting as well. But at their August 6 meeting, they voted along party lines to reneg on the raise. Peg Ferraro and Glenn Geissinger complained that these are union employees, and that business agent Justus James should be there if these workers are entitled to their raise.
Seth Vaughn, who was among the five Republicans voting to take back this raise, was participating by phone. But he was cut off during the meeting and missed the deliberations prior to the vote.He phoned in immediately prior to the vote. Under the state Sunshine Act, a public official may participate in a public meeting by speakerphone so long as he can hear and interact with everyone as though he were physically present.
Lamont McClure called the resolution a "grave injustice."