Delay of pay change urged

by Brian Bakst

University Faculty Consultative Committee members passed a resolution Thursday urging administrators to delay conversion to a biweekly pay system.
But Marvin Marshak, senior vice president of Academic Affairs, said he will advise University President Nils Hasselmo to move forward with the system’s implementation.
The rift between the faculty and the administration stems from an administrative desire to create a uniform pay system. Administrators would like to convert the nearly 34,000 University employees from a semimonthly to a biweekly pay system. Currently, both semimonthly and biweekly pay systems exist at the University.
Marshak said 16,000 nonunion employees could be put on the biweekly pay system. If that occurs, 30,000 University employees would be paid biweekly.
But faculty members don’t want to see a conversion unless it is Universitywide, and administrators can’t promise that because of resistance from University unions.
Marshak said he is aware some groups may not like the outcome. Employees face a 10-day pay delay if a conversion occurs.
“This change disadvantages people, absolutely,” Marshak said. He added that if administrators tried to appease all University groups nothing would ever get done. Although administrators usually prefer to have the consent of faculty governance groups, changes can take place without it.
In June, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union members stopped the payroll conversion by refusing to accept the University plan. AFSCME, which includes about 4,500 University employees, said the payroll change is a violation of its contract. Technically, administrators cannot force AFSCME to convert to the new system because the union is under a contract that does not expire until next July.
Administrators say a Universitywide conversion could save the University millions of dollars in costs when paying its employees. Marshak said about 150 payroll workers are needed to do pay-related tasks and that the number could be cut in half under a uniform system.
Also, Marshak said some money is lost because workers are sometimes paid for hours they don’t work. Under a semimonthly system, paychecks are processed before the end of the pay period. If an employee calls in sick after paychecks are processed, they are not docked for that period. Most of the time the lost money is retrieved by the University, Marshak said, but not always.
Marshak added that without AFSCME, the conversion will yield minimal savings. The central administration would save about $100,000, and additional savings would be found in individual departments, he said. Marshak told consultative committee members this money could be put toward academic costs.
Committee member Carole Bland said the conversion would not be a problem if the administration would determine the exact fate of the savings.
“There is no question we are with you,” Bland said to Marshak. “When you have a plan to put the money in academic issues, come back to us then.”
Law professor Fred Morrison said administrators need to get AFSCME to accept the new system in order for the change to fulfill the goal of saving money.
Other committee members warned that the possibility of conversion has led to a renewed drive toward faculty unionization.