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Teamsters' Union threatens grievance over county recorder salary

At the Jan. 25 Wadena County Board meeting, commissioners learned that Local 49, which represents the employees of the Highway Department, has threatened to file a grievance against the county because of the salary increase approved for the county recorder on Jan. 8.

On Jan. 8, commissioners voted 3 to 2 to provide a 2 percent raise in pay for County Recorder Soledad Henriksen, whose annual salary was substantially lower than the salaries of other Wadena County elected officials, and of recorders in surrounding counties.

The Jan. 8 vote meant Henriksen would earn $52,270, up from $48, 422 for 2012. This salary was still thousands of dollars lower than the salaries of county recorders in Todd, Crow Wing, Douglas, Otter Tail and Hubbard counties.

Joann Derby, business agent for Local 49, contends that the new salary for Henriksen violates the "me too" clause of the 2010-2012 labor agreement.

The new contract, which will include the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, will not have a "me too" clause, according to county negotiators.

On Jan. 25, commissioners voted to rescind Henriksen's salary increase. Henriksen was not consulted during the discussion or invited to the meeting.

After the meeting adjourned, Commissioner Rodney Bounds said he thought Henriksen should not receive what he perceived as a large increase in salary because she has employees in her department who can help with the work.

When confronted with the argument that Wadena County salaries should not be substantially lower than neighboring counties, Bounds said that what neighboring counties paid their county officials was not relevant because "they are much larger than we are." He added that the Wadena County recorder should be paid what small counties pay their recorders.

When looking at other smaller counties, the following information can be found (data from Association of Minnesota Counties website):

With the information provided, "small" represents both the square miles included in the county and the population of the county.

• Pipestone County includes 464 square miles and has a population of 9,525, and will pay its recorder $57,356 for 2013, according to board minutes.

• Watonwan County includes 433 square miles and has a population of 11,197, and will pay its recorder $51,168 in 2013, according to St. James News.

• Norman County includes 885 square miles and has 6,859 people, and will pay its recorder $56,350 in 2013, according to Dec. 20, 2012, board minutes.

• Traverse County includes 568 square miles and has a population of 6,574, and will pay its recorder $51,500 in 2013, according to Dec. 18, 2012, board minutes.

• Rock County includes 485 square miles, and has a population of 9,644, and will pay its combination recorder and assessor position $83,704.73 in 2013 (info from current occupant).