January 4, 2011; Source: San Diego Union-Tribune | In Chula Vista, Calif., 250 workers have filed a grievance against their employer, MAAC Project, claiming MAAC is using a “two tiered pay system.”

The 45-year-old multi-service organization recently acquired the smaller Community Development Institute. Both ran HeadStart Programs but CDI paid a few dollars an hour more to their workers than did MAAC . . . and when you are making $11 an hour, a few dollars an hour is important.

As part of the acquisition agreement, CDI’s workers will continue to be paid at the higher rate while the MAAC workers (who are by the way, union members) will remain at $11 an hour.

The result? Two hundred and fifty workers, who are represented by SEIU Local 221, filed a grievance Dec. 20 against their employer. MAAC CEO Antonio Pizano says that the issue was not unseen by MAAC in the acquisition process and that there was some debate about it.

We figure that even if the workers were not unionized, this side-by-side wage differential was unlikely to have been a comfortable fit. Just a nod to the complications of combining programs even when much is aligned.—Ruth McCambridge