V.I. government employees are not likely to see raises this year, V.I. Chief Labor Negotiator Valdemar Hill Jr. told the Senate Finance Committee Friday, confirming what most observers expected.
"Given the number of expired contracts, the adverse economic conditions and the projected government deficit for 2016, it is not likely that there will be any negotiated wage increases in the immediate future," Hill said. Hill heads the Office of Collective Bargaining and its associated Public Employee Relations Board, which negotiates V.I. government labor contracts and resolves government labor disputes.
Right now, Hill said there are 38 collective bargaining agreements with 13 unions. Of those, nine contracts are current and the rest "are extended on a day-to-day basis by agreement of the parties or are currently in ongoing negotiations," Hill said.
Hill presented the Office of Collective Bargaining’s budget of $727,000 from the Union Arbitration Fund. OCB and the Public Employee Relations Board negotiate union labor contracts on behalf of the government.
There are 38 collective bargaining agreements with 13 unions. Of those, nine contracts are current and the rest "are extended on a day-to-day basis by agreement of the parties or are currently in ongoing negotiations," Hill said.
Of the total OCB/PERB budget request of $727,000, wages and salaries consume $417,000; benefits, Medicare and Social Security taxes comprise another $167,000. The category "other services" is the next largest component, at $76,000. These expenses include rent, phone, Internet, custodial and other services. Supplies, utilities and capital expenses round out the roughly $70,000 remaining budget expenses.
No votes were taken at the information-gathering budget hearing. Present were: Sens. Clifford Graham, Kurt Vialet, Sammuel Sanes Marvin Blyden and Tregenza Roach. Sens. Myron Jackson and Terrence "Positive" Nelson were absent.