August 21, 2009 Volume 110 Number 16

Management raises at Multnomah County irk AFSCME Local 88

So much for shared sacrifice. In March, Multnomah County workers represented by AFSCME Local 88 agreed to freeze their own wages in order to prevent cuts in services and layoffs to their coworkers. Other unions followed suit. As part of the deal, county leaders agreed that management would get no raises either. But on July 1, two of Multnomah County chair Ted Wheeler’s own staff got raises: chief of staff Tom Rinehart got an $8,000-a-year raise, to $93,000, and chief of operations Janna McClellan got a $10,000-a- year raise, to $120,000.

When word got out, union members — and other managers — were pretty unhappy.

Local 88 published an open letter to Wheeler, calling on him to retract the salary increases and apologize to workers.

“Local 88 members supported the freeze based on the understanding that this was a shared sacrifice,” wrote Local 88 President Becky Steward and Vice President Michael Hanna. “Your recent decision to approve raises for two of your staff members … is a break in faith with Local 88 and all employees who took a wage freeze.”

Steward told the Labor Press she doesn’t regret making the deal — 80 to 90 jobs have been saved because of the wage freeze. Her only regret is that Wheeler didn’t stick to it, and she’s hoping he’ll make it right.

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