Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When it comes to GCASA wages - "Let them eat cake."

On 12/12/09 there was an article on this blog entitled, "How Much Money Do People Make At GCASA?"

In the last 5 years GCASA has lost 7 employees who went to work for State Government mostly in the prisons for the Department Of Corrections as substance abuse counselors. They all have said on exit interviews that they love working at GCASA but just can't afford to keep working here. Why is that? Here's why.

GCASA starts an Addictions Counselor I at $21,559. There are 10 steps in the grade and after 10 years an Addictions Counselor I maxes out at $30,685.

In New York State, an Addictions Counselor I is a grade 16, and as of April, 2010, the starting salary is $45,518 which is about $24,000.00 more per year for the same job than GCASA can pay.

At GCASA an Addictions Counselor II starts at $24,134 and can go up to $34,350. In New York State an Addictions Counselor II starts at $51,258.00 which is about$26,000.00 per year more for the same job. In fact, GCASA can hire 2 counselors for the price of the State's one.

At GCASA an Addictions Counselor III starts at $31,938 and can go up to a $45,458. In New York State, an Addictions Counselor III starts at $66,375.00 which is $35,000.00 more than at GCASA for essentially the same job and is more than any staff member at GCASA earns with the exception of the Executive Director.

In the State system most Addictions counselors get much better benefits: more vacation, better health insurance, more personal leave days, better retirement, etc.

Why is there such discrepancy you might ask?

Well, for one, State employees are unionized and most community based non-profits are not. Most counties have decided to outsource their substance abuse services rather than run them themselves because community based non-profits can do it cheaper and much more flexibly. In fact community based non-profits appear to be able to provide substance abuse services at half the cost of the state based on personnel cost comparisons.

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has committees which they used to call "workforce development" and now "talent management" to work on human resource strategies to attract and retain a skilled workforce but it has little traction when professional wages are so low for so many professionals in community based nonprofit substance abuse agencies in New York State.

With the budget deficit reduction strategies now being pursued, one high placed OASAS official told GCASA executives that OASAS would not look favorably on GCASA giving raises in 2010. However the average salary for the 82 out of 93 GCASA employees who make less than $40,000.00 per year is only $26,500.00. If GCASA gives 2% raises in 2010, which OASAS looks upon unfavorably, the average increase would be $530.00 which would take the average employee to $27,100.00.

The attitude of OASAS reminds me of Marie Antoinette who, when told the peasants had no bread, said, "Well, let them eat cake."

If the average Addiction Counselor at GCASA was making State wages of $45,940 to $66,375.00 I would not be so concerned. But when the average GCASA addictions counselor is making between $21,559 and mid 30s I think it is a whole other matter.

Further the average increase in a GCASA employee's contribution to his/her health insurance in 2010 will increase $660.00 per year for a single plan and $2076.00 for a family plan. The annual out of pocket contribution of a GCASA employee for a family plan who is making $26,500.00 is 26% of that employee's salary. The increase in employee contibution to his/her health insurance dwarfs any 2% raise they would get.

So, that's the cake. I'm just saying..............

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