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August 2019 Bargaining Update - Equity Adjustments

Author: Human Resources
Date: 8/27/2019 12:04 PM

All about "Equity Adjustments" and how they are determined.

Bargaining Status Update – Equity Adjustments

The County and SLOCEA have been busy meeting and conferring over MOU terms, exchanging proposals, and discussing each party’s priorities, as outlined in step #3 of “The Bargaining Process in 7 Steps”  article.  The parties continue to also make progress in the areas of wages and benefits, while progressing in a comprehensive review of the contract, including many language changes and operational issues.  

Last month’s article (linked here) focused on several agreements the County reached with Associations.  The County and other Associations reached agreements on “across the board” increases, as well as “equity” increases for some classifications.  As a follow up to that article, we received some questions about what an “equity” adjustment is and thought it would be a good opportunity to further explain this important wage element. 

What Is an Equity Adjustment?

 “Equity” adjustment refers to a special pay increase that classifications can receive when they are significantly below the wages paid to similar classifications in the external job “market”.   Equity adjustments are an important tool to promote fair compensation, to help recruit and retain personnel, and to ensure proper alignment between classifications that support career growth.  For example, a classification that demands advanced skills or experience, with increased responsibility, and possibly supervision of others, is paid at a higher rate than an entry level classification that requires less experience or skills.  

Equity adjustments are not a substitute for “across the board” increases (i.e., compensation increase that go to all members of the bargaining unit). Also, they are not based on performance, workload, or other similar factors.  A best practice compensation plan includes “across the board” increases to address cost of living, as well as “equity” adjustments, when needed, to address recruitment and retention concerns and support career growth internally.   

How Are Equity Adjustments Determined?

As described in April’s Inside Scoop article, employers (and often Unions) use “comparability” surveys to gather compensation data showing how wage rates compare with the “market”.  Because the County has too many classifications to survey each classification (approximately 550!), we identify a smaller number of “benchmark” classifications that are representative of a job “family”.  Usually, comparability surveys show that some classifications are closer to their surveyed market competitive base wage pay rate than others.  Equity adjustments are utilized to address situations in which benchmark classes are significantly below the market in base wages or internal alignments within a job family are significantly off from recommended alignment.

Over the last several years, the County and various bargaining unions have reached agreements that include equity adjustments for a targeted group of out of market or misaligned classifications. If you’d like to see a specific example, below are details related to two recent instances of equity adjustments:

  1. District Attorney Investigators Association, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors on August 13, 2019, addressed an internal alignment issue in which a higher-level classifications’ pay (Supervising District Attorney Investigator) was too close with an entry level classifications’ pay.  For additional details, click the below link and then click on the agenda item pdf at the top of the right corner of the screen.

  1. Unrepresented Employees, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors on October 16, 2018, addressed classifications that were both significantly below external market and those that had significant internal alignment issues.  For additional details, click the below link and then click on the agenda item pdf at the top of the right corner of the screen.

We hope this article helps you better understand equity adjustments and how they are different than across the board increases.  The County has had a long-standing labor relations strategy to address below market or misaligned classifications, over a multi-year approach, to reach a market-competitive rate of pay for as many classifications as possible.  We are committed to cooperation between labor and management to address inequities and making the County a great place to work!