Schenectady Civil Service clerical pay point of dispute for Riggi

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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— In one city office, a clerical worker is being paid $36,000 to supervise others, run the office and handle complex software programs.

In another, a clerical worker will be paid $49,000 to work alone under direct supervision.

Councilman Vince Riggi questions the disparity, highlighted by a recent announcement for a Civil Service exam.

“That makes no sense,” he said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy defended the $49,000 pay for the new hire as reasonable, saying that the real problem is the pay for the city’s eight information processing specialists, who get $30,000 to $36,000 to supervise entire offices.

“It’s probably underpaid,” he said of their salaries.

The Civil Service job description for the new hire, an administrative assistant in the sewage treatment plant, says the applicant must perform “difficult clerical tasks, requiring the exercise of independent judgment in the application of prescribed procedures and methods to routine cases.”

The city’s lesser-paid clerical supervisors have a much longer description.

Their Information Processing Specialists III job involves performing “complex” clerical tasks using “unique” software, which the worker must learn and then train the rest of the office to use. In addition, the worker “is responsible for managing an office or for assuming responsibility for supervising a major operation of the office” and may exercise “direct supervision” over other clerical employees.

McCarthy said the new hire’s job is far more complex than the Civil Service job description sounds. The job involves sending out all water bills, as well other clerical work at the plant.

“She does everything,” he said. “The job is far more complex than it sounds.”

And despite the description of working under direct supervision, he said the new hire is far more than simply a clerical worker.

“This is a management position,” he said, adding, “We pay somebody. I’ll get that dollar-value out of their performance.”

But Riggi questioned the disparity in pay between the two jobs.

“It certainly doesn’t seem like there’s parity or fairness,” he said. “Why would somebody, where it looks like they will have less difficult duties they will perform, be getting paid so much more?”

While McCarthy said the specialist might be underpaid at $35,000, Riggi said the administrative assistant’s proposed $49,000 salary should be reduced.

“Can this job be done at a more reasonable salary?” he said. “That’s something that should be examined.”

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