We reported last week that a handful of higher-level city managers recently received pay increases, despite an apparent freeze on pensionable pay within the city’s workforce.

On Friday, we found out that the pay freeze brought in by Proposition B in June applies to non-unionized managers as well as unionized employees.

City COO Jay Goldstone called me today to discuss a raise he approved for Jim Barwick, head of the city’s Real Estate Assets Department. He said Barwick’s raise was appropriate due to an increase in his workload. And he said the raise, which kicked in Sept. 15, doesn’t violate Proposition B, which passed in June, or the city’s stated position of freezing pay, because it didn’t increase Barwick’s pay above the range set for his position by the City Council.

As such, Goldstone said the raise was equivalent to the “step” raises unionized employees still receive despite the pay freeze.

Unionized employees can still rise up the career ladder in their department. The pay freeze doesn’t mean each individual’s pay is frozen, it just means that the pay for a certain designated position, or job title, is frozen. As employees move up the career ladder, they still receive pay increases that come with their new job title at each step.

A nonunionized manager’s pay range is analogous to the step system for union employees, Goldstone said. Post-Proposition B, managers can receive raises within their pay range, as long as the city doesn’t increase the range itself, he said.

“If an employee is at the top of their range, there aren’t going to be any increases,” Goldstone said.

Goldstone acknowledged that Barwick’s pension will increase as a result of his new salary. But so will the pensionable pay of every unionized employee who receives a promotion in the form of a step increase, he said.

And Goldstone said he has been very careful about handing out pay raises in recent years despite a steady stream of department managers asking for higher salaries for their employees on a daily basis.

“I’ve been very judicious in giving those out,” he said.

Goldstone’s reasoning didn’t sit well with Jeff Jordon, vice president of the Police Officers Association, the local police union.

“I say lead by example,” Jordon said. “He can explain the raises, but he can’t excuse them. Goldstone is holding onto the talent in his department by paying them more money.”

Jordon said the argument that the raises were given because the managers took on a greater workload also doesn’t fly with union workers. Every city employee, including police officers, has seen a workload increase in recent years, he said.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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