Resolution raising city employee hourly rate to $15 is tabled

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Pat Long on March 1, 2022. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen Committee on Human Resources tabled a resolution by Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long that would raise the minimum wage of all city employees to $15 an hour.

While the majority of committee members were supportive of the concept, there were concerns about how it may impact the city’s current collective bargaining agreements with various groups of city employees.

City of Manchester Human Resources Department Director Kathleen Ferguson told the committee that one work around that has been done in other municipalities is a concept called “red lining.” She told the board that most collective bargaining agreements currently agreed to by the city provide up to a three percent raise each year from the previous year’s hourly salary following a good performance review. However, if hourly wages were raised to $15 an hour, there would be some employees who would see their hourly wages go down after receiving a three percent raise from their previous year’s hourly salary, with the “red line” removing that technically punitive “raise” and keeping the employee at $15 an hour until they could receive a raise larger than that in future years.

Ferguson also told the board that some employees who have been with the city for extended periods and only recently received raises at or near $15 an hour may chafe at new employees coming on board at the same rate, an assessment challenged by Ward 5 Alderman Anthony Sapienza.

Sapienza also disagreed with the committee’s opinion to research the matter further to make sure the resolution did not interfere with current collective bargaining agreements, offering to amend the resolution in a matter that would remove any complicating factors that could potentially invalidate the agreements.

Ward 6 Alderman Sebastian Sharonov said that he has heard it would cost the city $173,000 to bring all city workers currently under $15 an hour to the new minimum wage, and he asked Ferguson what it would cost to do the same for any Manchester School District workers.

Ferguson did not have an answer, stating it is outside her purview, with the city having no financial authority over the Manchester School District beyond providing a total budget appropriation figure for each fiscal year. Currently, the Manchester School District does not have a Human Resources Director.

As of Tuesday, the city employees 18 part-time and full-time workers who make less than $15 an hour and 124 seasonal workers, although this figure fluctuates frequently. The city employs approximately 1,250 people overall.

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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.