Last Monday, March 28, CEO Adelee Le Grand sent a memo to the HART Board of Directors, advising them that some employees will receive the increase in pay.
"HART employees have worked tirelessly to keep our services operating for the Hillsborough County community," Le Grand wrote. "This has been done while managing the stress associated with the impacts of a global pandemic historical increases in cost-of-living."
Le Grand went on to write that, to provide some relief, all HART non-bargaining unit employees will receive the cost-of-living increase, which will be instituted retroactively starting from Jan. 1, 2022.
The memo was sent three days after CL published a story on Friday, March 25, which found that over 50 administrative level employees left HART over the past year under Le Grand's leadership. Some employees claimed a toxic workplace, while Le Grand said HART is moving in a new, more efficient direction that is not for everyone. County commissioners pointed to lack of funding, leading to less competitive pay for employees, as a reason for the exodus.
"To date, we are still actively negotiating the ATU Local 1593 and Teamsters Local Union No. 79 contracts," Le Grand wrote. "Once approved by the union membership, the new contracts will be brought before the HART Board of Directors for approval.
CL reached out to both unions involved in the current negotiations, and the Teamsters responded via email.
"I agree that HART is still technically in negotiations with Teamsters Local 79, because although we have reached a full and complete tentative agreement, there is clarification needed from the Employer on one issue before the Union will report that the tentative agreement has been ratified by our members," wrote John Sholtes, Secretary-Treasurer, Business Agent and Director of Organizing. "Further, I agree that if our full tentative agreement is ratified by both the members and the HART Board as negotiated on 3/24/22, that a 5% increase for non-bargaining employees would be fair and equitable."Hillsborough County Commissioner and HART Board Member Mariella Smith said the pay increase offers help to employees who are facing increasing cost of living.
"I'm glad to see this is happening, I'm always advocating for higher wages in our area and in all the boards I sit on," Smith told CL.
She went on to say that with the area's ongoing affordable housing crisis, the pay increase could help some who have seen their cost of living skyrocket over the past year.
Non-bargaining employees who are still in their probationary period will still receive an increase, but at 1.25%. Le Grand wrote that the costs of the increases,
can be absorbed in the Board approved fiscal year 2022 budget.
"To ensure that we are providing transparency in our budgeting process, we are planning to present a fiscal year 2022 budget amendment to include American Rescue Plan funding and any projected increases associated with labor negotiations and other expenses," Le Grand wrote. "You will hear more from me as we navigate many exciting developments and changes that fiscal year 2023 will bring."