Thursday’s West Virginia Personnel Board meeting agenda was notable for what it was lacking: Any mention of a new Division of Highways pay plan mandated by legislation passed in 2017, and currently the subject of a mass employee grievance.
Under the Justice administration bill, the division was directed to address high turnover and high vacancy rates at Highways by revamping its hiring process and rewriting job titles and pay grade classifications to improve rates of pay.
Since then, as the employee grievance — now in mediation — notes, Highways has adjusted pay grades for only a fraction of its roughly 5,000 employees. To date, the Personnel Board has approved Highways’ policy changes raising pay grades for the division’s lowest-paid employees and to substantially increase pay for bridge safety and maintenance workers.
Highways officials last appeared before the board in March, when the board rejected Highways’ latest round of proposed changes in job descriptions and pay grades, finding them lacking in detail.
“I think some are very good, and some aren’t ready for prime time,” board member Rick Wallace said at the time.
Highways has not come before the board since. Highways spokesman Brent Walker did not respond to a request for an update on the status of the revisions.
The lack of progress prompted more than 270 Highways employees to file a mass personnel grievance in March.
Last month, an administrative law judge for the Public Employees Grievance Board rejected motions by Highways attorneys to dismiss the mass grievance.
While the Highways pay grade adjustments were not on the agenda, the Personnel Board did take up a number of other issues, including moving the position of adviser to the director of the state Lottery from a civil service-protected classified position to at-will.
Board members concluded that the position, which is vacant, has policymaking authority, one of the criteria to be designated as an at-will position.
The position advises the director on legal and external compliance issues, monitors proposed changes in Lottery legislation and works with legal counsel on regulatory and personnel matters.
It is at a pay grade of between $44,244 minimum and $81,852 maximum salary, but, as an at-will employee, an individual hired for the position could have a salary higher than the maximum.