Four clerks in the Mercer County election office will have to wait at least two more weeks to find out if they’re going to get a pay hike.

A motion, introduced by Commissioner Brian Beader calling for an increase of 45 cents an hour, died Thursday before a vote could be taken after failing to receive a second from either Commissioner Olivia M. Lazor or Commissioner Michele Brooks.

Karen Seelbaugh, the chief grievance officer for the members of United Steelworkers Local 1355-04, was not happy after learning that commissioners had not acted on the agreement that she said was reached through mediation involving officials from the union, county and State Bureau of Mediation.

“Wow, that is a shock!” she said.

Bill Boyle, the county’s director of administrative services, said the mediation agreement was nonbinding. Ms. Lazor said it required commissioners only to “look at the rate,” not necessarily approve changing it.

Mrs. Seelbaugh disagreed and was prepared to show The Herald a letter supporting her contention when she was met by Mrs. Brooks and Boyle, who corralled her into a brief closed-door meeting.

After that meeting, Mrs. Seelbaugh declined to release the letter, saying she would wait to see what happens at the next commissioners’ meeting in two weeks. She said union members are nonetheless “very frustrated.”

“We had a written agreement that it would be upgraded and fought,” she said. “And here we are back at square one.”

After meeting with Mrs. Seelbaugh, Mrs. Brooks said she still had a couple of questions that needed to be answered and emphasized the one-step grade increase could be discussed again.

Mrs. Seelbaugh said she was given no assurances in the meeting with Mrs. Brooks that it would be approved in two weeks and “we are upset.”

“And once we get a letter saying, ‘OK, we’re going to do this,’ then that’s the way it should be,” Mrs. Seelbaugh added.

The grievance was filed in August and the change, if approved, would have been retroactive to Oct. 1. Mrs. Seelbaugh explained one of the issues centered on additional duties clerks took after former elections chief Jim Bennington was fired last year. Another involved how their jobs had changed because they must be licensed by the state to run a certain portion of the new voting system.

Ms. Lazor said the issue is much larger than just the four clerks because a change in their pay grade would have a “ripple effect” on similar positions all throughout the courthouse. That “effect,” she said, could cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Recommended for you