City Staff Needs
The City is only as strong as its workforce. The Council is responsible for ensuring that compensation packages with the City’s two unions and non-unionized staff strike a balance between providing staff with fair compensation and the resources needed to do their job and the City budget. While on Council, I supported the recent 6.4 percent pay adjustment as recommended in our recent wage study. I also supported providing hazard pay compensation during the pandemic and the end of year bonus for all employees in light of growing inflation in the country.
Talisha understands that the labor market is highly competitive. Our city staff are in high demand. As mayor, I am committed to supporting city staff to ensure that the City of Takoma Park is a great place to work.
(The questions and answers below were submitted as part of the AFSCME Local 3399 Questionnaire.)
What actions would you take to ensure racial and economic equity for all city employees?
It is important that our staff receive equal pay for equal work regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity. As mayor, I will work closely with the City Manager to ensure that we are reviewing our hiring and retention practices through a racial equity lens. In addition, we want our staff to be able to live, work, and play in the City of Takoma Park; therefore, we need to make sure that staff can access local opportunities, such as housing, to benefit from the services they so dutifully provide on a daily basis.
What steps would you take to improve morale and communication between city employees, union leaders, the city manager, and the City Council?
While the Council cannot be directly involved in staffing decisions, it is important to ensure that all employees including union leaders have an opportunity to engage with Council. Staff should feel that there is a means to communicate with the City Council. As mayor, I will seek out opportunities to have Council, City staff, and the City Manager engage more. To accomplish this, I will seek out team building and collaboration strengthening engagements to improve morale and build relationships that will help strengthen our delivery of City services.
What role should the Councilmembers (mayor) take in overseeing the actions of the city manager?
The mayor does not have autonomous management responsibility of the city manager. However, the Council (including mayor) are responsible for establishing the city manager’s performance plan and evaluating their performance, including any bonuses or salary increases. The Council and mayor are also responsible for managing the budget and establishing city priorities, which allows for indirect oversight of staffing and programmatic decision making.
A recent wage study found large wage disparities for employees at the low end of the pay scale who are mostly people of color. Do you support addressing wage disparities by raising city employee salaries to the median salary levels for neighboring cities and counties? The current City Council has only raised salaries for 14 police supervisors based on the wage study, but not for any other city employees facing wage disparities.
While on council, I voted in favor of raising the salaries for the 14 police supervisors based on the wage study, because this classification group was determined to be “consistently approximately two grades (10%) too low”. For other positions, the wage study recommended that the city conduct a reclassification study. A reclassification project would entail a systematic review of all job descriptions; review and updating, if necessary, of class specifications; systematic evaluation of all jobs; grade assignment assessment, and the calibration of jobs to the pay structure. As mayor, I would support a reclassification study to better understand and address wage disparities to ensure staff are compensated appropriately within their grade based on their years of experience, roles and responsibilities, and skills.
The city doesn't provide any paid family medical leave for city employees. Do you support up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave for city employees?
As mayor, I will support aligning our paid family medical leave policy with the forthcoming state regulations under the Time to Care Act of 2022.