Patch Staff Report
The Employee Compensation Technical Advisory Group (ECTAG), a panel charged with advising the Atlanta City Council on a long-term strategy for creating a best in class employee compensation package for all city employees. The first meeting was held on Thursday, March 27 at Atlanta City Hall.
The 11-member advisory panel was convened by Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell, who says that fair and competitive compensation is a critical element in the retention of talented experienced employees across all areas and departments of the City of Atlanta.
“We must develop a business model that will ensure that Atlanta retains a competent and productive workforce that is committed to delivering the high quality of service that our citizens deserve,” Mitchell said in a press release. “Each year we lose talented employees to other municipalities and to the private sector because of a compensation policy that is unpredictable and often convoluted.”
In attendance at Thursday’s meeting were President Mitchell; City Councilmembers Alex Wan and Yolanda Adrean; Department of Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Yancy; Deputy Chief Operating Officer Hans Utz; Gina Pagnotta Murphy (Professional Association of City Employees union); Ken Allen (International Brotherhood of Police Officers union); Steven Borders (International Association of Firefighters Local 134; Deputy Chief Finance Officer Gwendolyn Smith; and Alan Lee (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union/southern region).
The panel discussed plans for the development of a consistent compensation strategy throughout city government and the history of compensation of employees in all job categories.
The panel also focused on best practices of compensation in the private and public sectors.
"Over the next several months we will be taking a thorough, strategic look at how the City compensates its most valuable asset - our employees - as a critical first step in creating an efficient and motivated work force,” said Councilmember Wan, Chair of the City Council’s Finance/Executive Committee. “Ensuring that we have the appropriate organizational structure, compensation levels, and incentives and upward mobility plans will help inform City Council as we identify and prioritize the city's resources going forward."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index, public-sector wages have fallen by about 1.3 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 2007, where private-sector wages have been essentially flat (an increase of 0.3 percent).
“I am looking forward to working with the team to develop a structure and policies for compensation that are easy to understand, predictable and sustainable, " said City Councilmember Yolanda Adrean.
Currently the City of Atlanta has approximately 7,500 employees.
The Presidents of PACE Local R5-50, IBPO Local 623, and IAFF Local 134 issued the following statement about the work ahead of them:
“As the Presidents of PACE Local R5-50, IBPO Local 623, and IAFF Local 134 we are deeply invested in ensuring that our employees are compensated at an appropriate level for the jobs that they do. Additionally, the employees and taxpayers deserve to have a transparent logical structure in place to justify the variations in salary based on the specifics needs of the city and a model based on best practices of comparable systems. The dialogue and energy felt from both city leaders and labor leaders in the first meeting of the Employee Compensation Technical Advisory Group was very positive and focused on the task before us. We are faithful that this group has the people and the resources needed to affect the systemic change long needed that will both better serve the employees and the citizens that depend on them.”
AFSCME representative Alan Lee said Thursday’s meeting was productive.
“We look forward to working with the City of Atlanta to development a compensation strategy that is the model for major American cities. We are pleased that everyone has been brought to the table,” he said.
ECTAG will meet over the next several months before reporting its recommendations back to the Atlanta City Council.