Dear Editor and Residents of Clearfield County:
We’re sure you have heard that two of our current Clearfield County Commissioners are seeking re-election.
Before you consider your vote this November, the employees working for the commissioners would like you to understand that it’s time for a change, and it’s crucial.
Historically, a large portion of voters vote for a name they recognize on the ballot. However, this time, we’re asking for the residents of Clearfield County to really do your homework.
Here are just a few things that the commissioners have done to their employees, trying to keep it as short as we can. But there is a lot.
The Clearfield County employees went through negotiations, resulting in arbitration due to lack of cooperation from our employers.
The results of that arbitration were unfavorable, especially to our hourly employees including our sheriff’s deputies.
These aren’t quickly-trained positions and most courthouse employees are offered zero training. Yet, these are extremely important positions being court-related.
For starters, they took away the ability to decide what is in our best interest, for our families with regards to health insurance.
They removed the spouse from our insurance, decreasing the employees’ total net worth by over $19,000. The spousal exclusion provides no financial gain for the county.
However, most of our hourly employees are currently classified as poverty, low-income waged employees in Clearfield County.
This is a tremendous financial hardship that some cannot recover from. We have heard some commissioners say, “find a new job.”
That’s absurd! These employees have dedicated their work lives to Clearfield County. They should be treated with respect.
When the arbitration decision came in, the hourly employees received a raise, decreasing yearly for the next four years.
The starting wage is now set at $10.80 to $13.25 an hour for hourly-waged employees, including our sheriff’s deputies at $13.25.
Keep in mind, the commissioners put a spousal exclusion in place for all hourly employees.
This pay increase doesn’t even touch the inflation increase.
Early in the negotiations, the Children, Youth and Family Services unit felt they were offered a good deal. They were happy with what was offered to them, a pay increase and yearly bonuses. They settled.
But the hourly employees were being treated differently by our commissioners. They are treated as if they are disposable.
In fact, the high-dollar attorney the commissioners hired to fight their own employees said, “there’s always a warm body behind someone, waiting to take their position.”
Believe us, that is NOT true. However, that’s the mentality being pushed around.
The CYFS contract was re-opened, even though they signed very early on, and as a result, they received additional compensation.
The probation officers also received a sizable raise along with educational and retention bonuses yearly.
On Tuesday, Aug. 22 at the commissioners’ board meeting, CYFS employees were awarded their increase, per their re-negotiated contract agreement.
Due to no one applying for CYFS caseworker positions, their starting rate was raised to $18 per hour and aide positions were created with a starting rate of $14 per hour (as no college degree is required as they will only be involved with behind-the-scenes paperwork and supervised visitation).
With that being said, our sheriff’s deputies put themselves in danger every single day. They transport inmates from the Clearfield County Jail and the state correctional facilities daily.
They serve Protection from Abuse (PFA) paperwork, confiscate weapons, pick up offenders on bench warrants, require special training including mandatory successful 19-week academy training and so much more.
Our commissioners believe they are only worth a starting wage of $13.25 per hour. The Sheriff’s Office has been short-staffed for months due to the starting wage.
Since Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township combined into a regional police force, their starting wage is much higher—nearly twice the starting rate of the Sheriff’s Office.
An e-mail was sent to the commissioners asking them to re-open their contract for re-evaluation some time ago.
A deputy representing the Sheriff’s Office had a meeting with the commissioners, and was told that they were not responding to his e-mail in writing and that they will not re-open the contract.
Additionally, one stated that if they were unhappy with the contract, they should’ve spoken up before it was signed. It’s interesting how they re-opened CYFS but refuse to open the deputies’ contract.
The CYFS aide positions starting at $14 per hour is no different that the clerk, clerk typist and secretary positions.
Yet these positions start at $10.80 per hour (these positions handle legal, civil and criminal paperwork).
The question is: why are the commissioners treating the employees so differently and unfairly?
So, what we’re saying is: if this is how the current commissioners are treating their own employees, what do you the residents of this county, think they are doing for you?
Employees of Clearfield County
Mary Jane Helsel