Time to Step It Up a Notch
Dear Editor: There has been talk at the last couple of [Gulfport] council meetings about giving city employees bonuses for their work during the COVID pandemic and finding a way to bring the minimum wage for the City of Gulfport employees current and new to $15 per hour. I am not a fan of bonuses as I think they often get eaten up by taxes and in the end not much is left for the employee. I’d rather see them given days off to show the city’s commitment to a work-life balance. As well, I would suggest that the city needs to do a professional salary survey before embarking on wholesale pay increase changes. Why? Some months ago, I fell across an internet site that lists salaries for government employees. It happened to be for Gulfport because I guess I had searched for something else Gulfport. I honestly only looked at a handful of salaries and frankly I was shocked and disgusted by what I saw. The variance in pay between employees with similar responsibilities, in some cases, was shocking. Never mind, the disparity between some employees and their manager or director was equally eye opening. I understand that longevity / seniority plays a role, but the variances really were just too great to even use that as an explanation.
I would strongly urge that before embarking on wholesale salary changes, the city council and city management do the employees a real service and have a professional salary study done. To my knowledge, Gulfport hasn’t done such a survey in eons, perhaps twenty years. What apparently has been done are informal “call around” surveys primarily for police and fire.
An exercise such as a professional salary survey is not inexpensive. However, this certainly should be required when wanting to be a professional organization that wants to be competitive in its pay. Simply stated, this is a must that companies / organizations should do that truly want to invest in the best people.
Further, with extra funding being made available through the American Rescue Plan, the cost would perhaps be less impactful. Just throwing money at a problem, ad hoc, isn’t going to solve the problem of retaining and also hiring the best employees. Let’s step it up a notch on the professional playing field and truly invest in the employees for the future. Surely, we as residents all care that employees are paid equitably in the workplace and comparatively relative to outside of the workplace? We’d all like to reap the benefits of the extra funds. However, what good are the funds if you can’t attract the best candidates and, more importantly, adequately and fairly pay the ones already on board, to do the work?
When I presented this suggestion at the council meeting, you would have thought that the members of the dais didn’t hear a word. I know for some councilmembers and staff it is probably a very progressive human resource step to take. However, it’s a step that Gulfport should embrace just as it has any number of other things it has engaged in over the years. The employees deserve it!
If you agree, please consider sending a note to the city council members at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for reading. – M. Tober
Juneteenth Just the Start
Dear Editor: Why is Juneteenth not only critical, but a mandatory historical fact that must be told and understood? U.S. proclamation to states that all Black slaves are free. Free Americans. The proclamation mandated that Black Americans have “absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” On June 19, 1865, in Texas, the official observance of emancipation day was born. Since the end of enslavement of Black Americans, many laws have attempted to ensure the freedoms promised — education, interracial marriage, voting rights, property ownership, abolishing segregation, etc. So why are these freedoms under attack today?
It is 2021 and it is very clear that today many in political authority (mainly one party) are angry at such freedoms for Black Americans and people of color. Therefore, June 19th isn’t only about celebrating freedoms, it is about the continued fight for freedoms for all, equality for all and judicial justice for people of color. This tiny city of Gulfport still has a lot to learned about acceptance, a lot of work to do to reconcile its past, and should work toward not being afraid to stand up to its own institutional racism. – Yolanda Roman