Labor Board and Committee Say They Need Bigger Budgets

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Pierina Jacobs-Feldman, chairwoman of the Public Employees Relations Board, testifies Tuesday to the Senate Finance Committee. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)
Pierina Jacobs-Feldman, chairwoman of the Public Employees Relations Board, testifies Tuesday to the Senate Finance Committee. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

Representatives from the V. I. Public Employees Relations Board and V.I. Labor Management Committee sat together at the testifiers’ table at the Senate Committee on Finance hearing Tuesday to request bigger budgets, but it might be a different scenario next year.

After listening to the budget presentations of both entities, Sen. Kurt Vialet said a bill would be forthcoming to put the Labor Committee under the Public Employees Relation Board. He first made that suggestion in July 2018. Such a merger would allow the government to quit renting separate office space for the Labor Management Committee, which has only one employee, Vialet said.

The budget request recommended by the governor for the Labor Committee for the upcoming fiscal year is $173,000. Last year the budget was $175,000.

Yirah Tutein, assistant director of the Labor Management Committee said the panel needed an increase, not a cut, because of rising costs.

“We see the need for the budget of $180,000 to help us defray the increased cost of fringe benefits, operating supplies, professional services, and utilities,” Tutein said

She broke down the request as follows:

• $104,000 for personnel, which includes one part-time employee

• $16,200 health insurance and fringe benefits.

• $5,000 office supplies

• $54,800 other services and charges: This amount includes:

Professional services for workshops, network and communications, rental costs for office space and inter-island travel and utilities.

The Public Employees Relation Board also asked for more than the governor was recommending.

Pierina Jacobs-Feldman, chairman of the board, said the governor’s recommended budget was $1,475,301 and added, “However, we are humbly requesting an additional amount of $172,066.00, which brings the board’s total request to $1,647,367.

Last year the request was for $1.3 million.

Zandra Petersen, executive director, broke down the request as follows:
– $720,280 personnel services
– $279,222 fringe benefits
– $75,000 capital outlays;
– $59,720 office and operating supplies;
– $496,145 other services and charges including professional services; communication costs; rental of machines and of buildings
– $17,000 utilities.

The Public Employee Relations Boards resolves conflicts between the government and employees.

The Labor Management Committee, according to testimony, promotes and prepares for employee involvement in the decision-making process with management and addresses the workplace environment.

Committee members present at Tuesday’s hearing were Vialet, Donna Frett-Gregory and Sen. Dwayne DeGraff (I-STT). Non-committee member Novelle Francis also attended. Sens. Marvin Blyden (D-STT), Oakland Benta (D-STX, Alicia Barnes (D-STX) and Janelle Sarauw (I-STT) were absent.

Original Source: https://stjohnsource.com/2019/08/01/labor-board-and-committee-say-they-need-bigger-budgets/