Legislature enacts moratorium, waiting period on pay-grade increases

By Ken Luchterhand

The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has placed a moratorium on any pay grade increases for employee job descriptions until Jan. 1, 2020.
In addition, the Legislature passed another resolution to create a “waiting period” on any pay grade increases for two years from its previous increase.
The Legislature approved the resolutions, 03-20-08I and 03-20-18K respectively, on March 20 at a regular Legislature meeting.
According to Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature Chief Communications Officer Lynette LeGarde, the move was because the Legislature was still getting requests to increase pay grades in job descriptions, well after the “Comp and Class,” (Compensation and Classification) process has been completed.
The 2017 “Comp and Class” plan took into consideration the pay for employees that they would be receiving elsewhere in the state and implemented a plan to increase them accordingly. The pay increases took effect Jan. 1, 2017.
The two-year waiting period for pay grade increases in Resolution 03-20-18K was necessary so that requests for pay grade increases would not be coming in so often. Once a job description received a pay grade increase, it would be necessary to wait two years before another increase is possible.
“They don’t want requests for pay grade increases coming in every six months or every year for the same job position,” LeGarde said.
Not all Legislature representatives agree with the change.
“Comp and class served a wonderful purpose, but due to no fault of the Nation or comp and class, I believe some wages remain too low,” said District 1 Representative Hinu Smith.
“The comp and class process takes into account the average rate of pay for a particular line of work regionally.  I am opposed to the newly enacted moratorium because the comp and class inadvertently perpetuate oppressive wages for historically undervalued work, teachers, social workers, childcare providers or nurses’ aides, for example,” she said.
“This is a trend nationally,” Smith said. “In the future, I would like to see the Ho-Chunk Nation be at the forefront of changing this paradigm for the betterment of our people.”
In the 2017 Compensation and Classification process, the Ho-Chunk Nation looked at 12 different areas in the state and surrounding areas to determine wages being paid for particular careers. The areas investigated were the Wisconsin counties of Jackson, La Crosse, Wood, Monroe, Juneau, Shawano, and Sauk. It also looked into wages in the cities of Green Bay, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis – St. Paul, and Chicago.
The Nation uses 46 pay grades, with each pay grade established with a “base” pay, meaning the minimum or starting pay, extending to a maximum for each position, both in an hourly pay and annual pay.