Guam – GovGuam is once again caught between a financial rock-and-a-hard place. In an effort to provide funding for pay increases to 6-thousand GovGuam employees in line with the Hay Study report. It is now facing a class-action lawsuit for not funding pay increases for more than 500 public safety workers.
From Attorney Daniel Somerfleck’s point of view the law is the law. And the law says GovGuam must give the island’s public safety personnel a 10% pay increase.
The law is Public Law 29-105 and it states that the island’s public safety employees shall receive a 40% increase in compensation over 4 years and it specifies the dates of implementation, October 1st 2008, October 1st 2009, October 1st 2010 and October 1st 2011.
However the Camacho Administration has argued that the law only required those increases if the money was available, and no money is available to fund the public safety increases. But Somerfleck responds GovGuam has no choice.
“There is no question in my looking at the law, and obviously this is going to be a question for the court, Is there any discretion? I don’t see it. I’ve never seen a law that has so much mandatory language in there … and my position would be no they don’t have that discretion.””
The Administration has also argued that what funds that do exist for pay increases have been set aside to pay for the implementation of the Hay Study compensation plan. And that would apply to more than 6-thousand GovGuam employees including 500-plus public safety workers.
But somerfleck points out the Hay Study compensation plan doesn’t look too attractive to the law enforcement community.
“One of the things that a lot of people realized from looking at the Hay Study is that ‘As I become more experienced I become less paid.” And when they have already been assured a certain level of compensation and they;ve already planned accordingly to that they were obviously a litle bit upset.”
Thursday Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo issued a Writ of Mandate ordering that the 10% pay raise be implemented as required by the law, and failing that, to appear at a show cause hearing December 16 to explain why.
Late Friday afternoon, the Governor’s office issued a short statement regarding the show cause order saying that Judge Bordallo’s order is currently under review by legal counsel and the Governor’s fiscal policy team, and they are reviewing the Administration’s options.