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GMH implemented pay increases for security guards

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Concerns have been raised that the Guam Memorial Hospital has implemented a public law to give its security personnel 40% pay increases that were intended for public safety employees of the Government of Guam.  While security guards at GMH received an increase last pay period, the new hospital management has put the brakes on the pay raises until they get clarification on whether the guards are in fact eligible for the extra money.

More than a dozen security guards at the Guam Memorial Hospital saw an increase in their paychecks last payday.  After their GG1s and personnel actions were processed, the hospital gave pay increases to the guards to comply with Public Law 29-105.  The law provides 40% pay increases to law enforcement and public safety personnel throughout the government in four increments, but only 20% has been implemented as the third raise was not included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

Interim Hospital Administrator Rey Vega says the previous board of trustees passed a resolution to give the raises, telling KUAM News, "The previous administrator looked at it and made some sense out of it and they were guided by discussion and information relayed to them by the department of administration that because of this class series of position guard is one of them, they acted favorably based on the information they had and they brought it before the Personnel Committee."

Vega says the previous board determined that the security personnel were, in fact, eligible for the additional pay retroactive to when the law was enacted in 2008. While the GG1s were processed and the increases were reflected in paychecks given during the last pay period, Vega says the hospital has not given retroactive pay and has now put the raises on hold.

He added, "Since it was brought to our attention we find it reasonable to just put it on hold and we have asked our legal counsel to review it and work with the office of Senator [Adolpho] Palacios, I think the real intent of the law."

Palaciosn the chairman of Public Safety, tells KUAM News that his office is going back and reviewing the public law to see if GMH security guards fit under the description of a peace officer, but it was his belief that the law does not include them.

Vega meanwhile will wait for that review as well as consult with the Department of Administration to clarify before the hospital spends another dime on the raises. "It's something the hospital cannot afford it at this time. We'll probably be guided by the issue of subject to the availability of funds," he said.

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz has also expressed concerns about the implementation of the raises, as well as the hospital's decision to hire 14 new security guards since January of 2010.

Meanwhile, for other public safety personnel in the government, they wait for elected leaders to appropriate the money for their third 10% increment that was supposed to take effect on October 1, 2010.  While some had filed a lawsuit seeking the pay, Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo determined that the judiciary cannot order the legislature to appropriate money to fulfill mandates in law because of the separation of powers doctrine.

We should note that the concerns come at a time when GMH is celebrating National Hospital Week. On Monday the newly-confirmed board of trustees will be sworn-in and the hospital will have an open house to kick off the week-long festivities.

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