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City Council Subcommittee Endorses Bilingual Compensation
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:25AM / Friday, October 09, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Ordinance and Rules subcommittee has unanimously approved Mayor Linda Tyer's proposed ordinance to compensate city employees for being bilingual and biliterate.

Director of Human Resources Michael Taylor explained the proposal to the council subcommittee on Monday. 

"I feel this is quite overdue, I am excited this is finally being taken up," Taylor said. "Aside from the obvious of having a method to provide additional pay to our employees, we really just feel this alliance with our organizational pulls to best meet the needs of the community we are serving."

Taylor said this will additionally benefit city employees and encourage more employees to seek out becoming bilingual or biliterate.

Additional rates an employee may be eligible for are $125 a month for either oral or reading/written fluence, or $175 for both oral and written fluency.

These rates would be available to all city departments except for Public Safety, as this department already has language contained in its employment agreements. Additionally, a city employee who does not engage with the public may not qualify for these benefits.  

An example Taylor gave of such a position is a senior accountant clerk whose primary duties are to process vouchers. This individual would not be eligible for bilingual benefits because he or she would have little to no interaction with the public as the office is more of an internal services department.

Councilor at Large Earl Persip lll questioned this exception, expressing that he believes bilingual and biliteracy is beneficial to all positions. Persip supports the ordinance and thinks it will be beneficial to the community, but would like to see it expanded to all city workers at some point.  

"I just think that when you're in a place like City Hall and residents are coming in for help, and everyone is not going to be able to speak Spanish or Russian and if someone in the building does and we use them to help one resident, this $125 may be worth it for that person," he said.

"Just a thought, I like the idea of all of this and I'm glad we're doing it, but I would like to see it expanded for all of the city because if someone takes time to learn another language it might be very valuable for those few people that speak that language in our city that may need help in City Hall or may run into a city worker on the streets."

The policy will be in effect after the next City Council meeting on Oct. 13 if it is passed at the meeting.

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