In May 2022 our Church Council established the Asset Enhancement Task Force and charged it with studying how our church might enhance the many assets we have, including employees, buildings and land, and relationships. Clearly, our valued staff members are an incredible church asset.
Thus, the first challenge the Task Force addressed is the lag in staff pay levels compared to the rapidly rising cost of living and what employees in comparable nonprofits are earning. We recognize there is low unemployment right now, and applicants have many job choices. A pressing near-term issue is filling open office and custodial staff positions and retaining current staff. We greatly value our staff and believe that our congregation supports acting as a justice-oriented employer, addressing disparities in Seattle-area livable wages and income.
Current pay for 15 people on our Church office, program, and custodial staff (excluding directors and pastors) is at least 11 percent and as much as 43 percent below the market average rate for similar jobs. These same salaries are from 30 percent to 46 percent below the estimated Seattle-area living wage. This is troubling information. The value we place on justice, along with our regard for our staff, call us to action.
At the Church Council meeting on June 15, the Asset Enhancement Task Force brought forward a proposal to bring wages for these positions up to market levels and move toward a livable wage effective July 2022. Timing is critical given our current recruitment challenges for several open positions. The Church Council voted unanimously to adopt this proposal. The cost of these wage and related benefit adjustments will not exceed $70,000 for the remainder of 2022.
Where will the money come from to make these adjustments? Are you asking people to increase their current pledges?
We are not asking that current pledges be increased this year to fund these pay raises. The Church Council approved borrowing from the Council-designated General Endowment fund which has a substantial balance today, specifying that what is borrowed will be repaid, with interest, by the end of 2025.
In the best of all scenarios the Task Force would have recommended increasing revenues before taking on additional expenses. However, the current situation calls for immediate action. The Task Force is committed to develop ways to increase church revenues over time., including facilities income, grants, and the potential of a special fundraising campaign.
Long-term increased revenues are expected to both repay the advance from the General Endowment and fund more just compensation into the future. The Asset Enhancement Task Force is continuing its work to generate recommendations for revenue sources to live into this salary justice priority in the future. It is envisioned that these recommendations will include:
- Adjustments to how we use current assets
- Additional funding through coordination with groups that use our facilities
- Additional fund-raising specific to this purpose
- An invitation to UCUCC donors moved by this salary justice priority to consider increased giving in future years
When will increased salaries and wages go into effect?
The Personnel Committee will decide individual adjustments in pay. The adjustments will be effective July 1, 2022. With respect for the privacy of staff members, we do not plan to share the specifics of either their current pay rates or the raises they will be receiving. No adjustments are planned for directors and pastors.
Has the Church considered reducing the number of employees to fund pay increases for those who remain?
Church leadership and the Personnel Committee have looked at the personnel levels needed to staff the numerous and varied programs our church is engaged in today, especially as we emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic. We are excited to re-engage fully as Church and we have endured significant trauma over the past two+ years with the Covid pandemic. Thus, we believe that a staffing reduction right now is not advisable. However, the Task Force will evaluate staffing levels as we look at our future, recognizing that potential impact on programs will need to be considered if staff positions are not filled or eliminated. The Task Force is inspired by a vision to enhance our church assets as we live out our Church’s ministry in 2022 and beyond. Questions? Contact Personnel Committee co-chairs Joyce Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Virginia Felton (email@example.com).
– From the Asset Enhancement Task Force and the Personnel Committee