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Chief Blog - Salary Compression

The Trouble with Salary Compression


Salary compression occurs when a City of New York employee is promoted from a lower title to a managerial title, either by certification from a civil service list or as a provisional appointment, and receives as little as a $1,000 increase. The primary source of this problem is the Managerial Pay Plan, which states the minimum salary for Level I Managers is $53,373.

The minimum salary for a PAA III is $48,896, for an Architect III $87,378 and Computer Specialist IV (Software) $95,896. When candidates for the Level I Managerial List are called for certification from these titles with a promotional guarantee of $1,000 with significantly increased managerial responsibilities, they often decline the position.

Case in point is the salary (which includes longevity increases) for an incumbent PAA III, which is $56,911. Level I Managers at a salary of $53,373 do not carry over longevity increases, resulting in a net raise of $500, not $1,000. With this salary structure Level I Managers are often left to supervise subordinates who earn more than they do with fewer responsibilities. It is no wonder when offered a promotion to Level I Manager at a salary of $53,373, employees in the PAA III title who are guaranteed a paltry increase “$1,000” often decline the promotion.

The November 13, 2011 Impasse Panel Report on Case I-30-09 recommendation states on Page 19, “Simply put, the City’s proposed minimum are to some extent insufficient to avoid salary compression or provide sufficient salary incentive for promotion (from Associate JOS III) to Administrative Job Opportunity Specialist.”

The November 13, 2011 Impasse Panel Report on Case I-30-09 recommendation states on Page 17, “Complicating arrival at a determination in this matter is the absence of any pattern of settlement that might provide some guidance to the panel. Commissioner Hanley testified that the minimum and maximum salaries are not set through pattern bargaining.”

Managers do not have collective bargaining rights or a contract under the 1968 Taylor Law. We do have the New York City Managerial Employees Association, which for 44 years has been advocating for adequate salaries, benefits and working conditions for all managers. Our 2,700 members pay their dues voluntarily. We represent managerial employees who work in various mayoral and non-mayoral agencies. Members are career public servants committed to dedicating their energy and skills to providing quality services to the people of New York.

New York City career managers are responsible for the day-to-day and year-to-year public service operations of City government. We are responsible for achieving individual agency goals as well as satisfying administration mandates. Within given parameters and sometimes with unforeseen limitations and challenges, career managers achieve these tasks on a regular basis. Managers consistently achieve the administration‘s goals and their agency’s management plans’ objectives.

We accumulate knowledge and wisdom from our training and everyday experience on the front lines managing the activities required to provide unwavering public service to millions of New Yorkers. Our leadership and management skills provide the direction for the performance of non-managerial staff. Career managers should be identified and compensated fairly and reasonably for the magnitude of their responsibilities.

Career civil servants are turning down promotions in many occupational ladders because they can actually lose money by accepting the new title. The significant increase in responsibilities is not reflected in a $1,000 differential. Many non-managerial titles obtain longevity increases while managerial titles do not. While overtime is never guaranteed for non-managerial employees, it is a fact of life.

MEA continues to advocate for a revised Managerial Pay Plan that addresses salary compression. All minimum Level I salaries should be set at the same differential as the step-up from entry level to supervisory in that same career ladder or 10% above the immediate lower title’s minimum, whichever is greater.

It is clear that the city has the ability to correct this inequity and should promptly move to do so.


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