Township officials vote to raise election worker wages

FLINT TWP. — Election inspectors will receive their first wage increase in more than eight years following recent board action.

The Board of Trustees adopted a 2020 election inspector wage schedule on March 2 which says chairs/co-chairs are paid $15 per hour; election inspectors, $13 per hour; absentee counting board members, $14 per hour.

The rates also apply for any election workers who must undergo outside training, said Clerk Kathy Funk.

While the new wage scale passed unanimously, there was a second motion requiring all township employees to take a personal day if they are going to work an election inspector job.

Treasurer Lisa Anderson said in prior conversations, the board agreed everybody who was not a part of the election staff would take a personal day if they were going to work the election, and they’d be paid as election workers.

“The conversation and agreement was with their union that if they were going to work elections, they were going to have to take a personal day,” she said. “They would receive their full rate of pay for that personal day and receive the election (rate of pay).”

Funk said a survey of employees only found two who were willing to give up a personal day in order to work the election, which is something normally done by nonemployees.

“We were talking about this for two years, interesting,” said Trustee Barb Vert. “Clerical workers, I thought we’d talked about them getting election pay.”

Funk said in her conversations with union representatives, the township can’t do that because it would create a gap between those employees and another in her department who will work receiving overtime that day.

“The union says we have to treat everyone in the union as equals,” said Funk. “(That) opens me up to a grievance, which opens me up to legal fees because there would be unequal treatment within the union.”

Both Supervisor Karyn Miller and Treasurer Anderson objected, saying the position in question has always done election work.

Miller went on to say her issue is having non-employees who make this rate of pay, opposed to using employees who make much more money, including overtime.

“I don’t think it’s fair to pay someone that much more money than say (an employee) who does election work,” she said. “On the one hand we’re paying what we used to pay, $12.50 an hour and then you turn around and pay our employees $16-20 an hour and department heads double that.”

Funk said except for Economic Enhancement Director Tracey Tucker, no department heads will be used to work this election. Tucker is using comp time instead of being paid her usual wage.

The clerk said she objected to requiring the staff the take personal time in order to work the election because of the issue of employees not wanting to use personal time and because of the cost.

“If we go back to using a personal day, they are being paid their wages and we’re paying election inspector wages on top of that,” said Funk. “So, we’re actually incurring more costs.”

Anderson argued the township would not be incurring more costs because employees are entitled to a certain amount of personal time each year and would use it one way or another.

“It’s still the same amount of money,” she said.

“Most of them would rather reserve their personal days for their own personal time or to get paid out at the end of the year,” said Funk. “That’s just the way that it is.”

Miller said she has an issue with the disparity between what the township is paying non-employees and employees.

“This goes back to two years ago when we discussed how are we going to handle this,” said Miller. “Then when I called the MTA (Michigan Township Association) they said using your employees (as election workers) is going to open a can of worms and it’s proven to be so.

“I know that they do a good job, I know they understand the process. It’s good to have them. But it’s been a can of worms ever since we did that.”

Funk said the practice of using employees to work elections goes back to before she was clerk.

Trustee Tom Klee said he understands the issue of giving up a personal day because employees are only allowed so many a year – but he said he thinks many employees would like to get paid for the personal day and make the additional wage that day as an election worker.

“They’ll be making election inspector pay that day, in addition to a personal day. They’re making more money,” said Funk. “They are going to be double-dipping.”

Miller said regardless who works the election, the pay for election workers is still going to be paid to someone, adding for that reason she didn’t see it as a loss.

The second motion to require employees who are working the election, other than election department staff, to take a personal day and be paid as election inspectors passed by a 6-1 vote, Funk being the only dissenting vote.