The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) today overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that lower-paid employees at the Presbyterian Center here be given higher percentage raises than top-tier staffers.

The proposal from the PMAB’s Justice Committee would have created a “progressive scale” of pay increases in which lower-paid employees would receive 3 percent increases while top-tier employees would receive 1 percent increases.

Current PMAB policy provides for a 2 percent across-the-board increase for all employees with 1 percent set aside for discretionary merit increases. A 3 percent raise for an employee making $150,000 would be $4,500. A 3 percent raise for an employee making $50,000 would be $1,500.

The current ratio of highest-to-lowest paid employee compensation is 7.67:1, said Justice Committee chair Noelle Royer.

PMAB member and Personnel Sub-Committee member Nancy Ramsay spoke against the proposal. “We have been looking at this and have been guided by the General Assembly’s compensation policy,” she said, noting that the current pay ratio complies with the policy and that the change would jeopardize the PMAB’s competitive place in the local marketplace.

Ruth Gardner, manager of compensation and benefits for the PMAB’s Human Resources office, said the PMAB’s overall compensation and benefits packages “are very competitive.”

PMAB member Raafat Zaki countered that the Justice Committee proposal “would apply only to raises, not salary ranges, and wouldn’t mess up any competitive issues.” The question, Zaki said, is “How does the church live into and model compassionate justice with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?” He added: “This is a simple measure to benefit the middle and lower levels of our employees.”

PMAB member Glen Snider said he rejects “the philosophy behind this [proposal] that we’re rewarding the rich and penalizing the poor. What we’re hearing from our personnel committee is that all are fairly and justly compensated. The idea that somehow we’re being oppressive is not a position I support.”

Speaking against the proposal, Heath Rada, a PMAB member who serves on the Personnel Sub-committee said, “We have finally made gender pay equity a reality and are taking other steps to make sure lower-paid are fairly compensated.”