U’s payroll conversion not the root of evil

by By Ramona

This is an institution of higher learning? Even now, in my 22nd year at the University, it never ceases to amaze me how many ignorant people are employed here. The latest discourse on the changeover from a semimonthly to biweekly payroll is beyond absurdity, and I’m almost embarrassed for the lot of us. I know many of you don’t live in a real world, but come on people — how, by any explanation, can you consider accepting a job somewhere else simply because you wouldn’t get paid on the 15th and at the end of the month? Do you think this how the rest of the world is paid, and that you’re now being called upon to make a sacrifice?
In Jessica Steeno’s article, “E-mail sets off controversy over proposed pay switch” (July 16), she writes, “Workers will not be paid for those 10 days of work until they leave the University, which might not be during the next fiscal year.” Hello — is anybody in there? What does that have to do with anything? Income taxes are based on a calendar year, not a fiscal one, and there is no impact on payroll distribution simply because a new fiscal year comes around. A salary, whether divided by 24 or 26, or by 18 or 19 paychecks, or divided by whatever any other odd contract period still adds up to the same yearly sum. You don’t lose money just because you’re paid following a pay period end. Good grief. Use some common sense.
The faculty members who think they’re getting the shaft — you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Perhaps University administrators erred when they announced the changeover and should have instead given you new contract dates each year that would align exactly with the payroll dates.
For example, many of those whose appointments begin on Sept. 16 don’t “start working” until the first day of class anyhow. I know, I know, you’re using that time for course preparation and research. But that isn’t the point. You’ll get a somewhat smaller check throughout the year, but you’ll also get more checks than you used to. Do you think the bank is going to call your mortgage due? My husband has been on a biweekly payroll for 30 years, and I’ve been on a semimonthly one for nearly 22 years. We have to see now that the automatic mortgage deductions taken from my check are done on a biweekly basis. So what’s the big deal? Do what everyone else does and plan for it.
Knowing full well the ire I will raise, I must state, sadly, it’s no secret on this campus that many of those most vocal are also among the least productive employees. Hey folks, no one owes you a job. It’s about time for those of you big enough to admit that the statement fits to begin steps to change your image. You think you’re not being treated fairly by a simple payroll change? Give me a break. Most of you provide the sole income to your household, whether by chance or by choice. So what? Do you think you have the collar of this circumstance in the working world? If you think that every time you say “jump” the administration should ask “how high,” do us all a favor and leave your employment here. You’ll soon find out what it’s like in the real world (often lower salaries, worse hours, unreasonable demands, expensive parking, minimal vacation and sick leave, no pension plans — not to mention the lack of medical and dental coverage). Mature and sensible individuals learn how to deal with issues in a professional manner, not continue to make inappropriate and unreasonable demands.
Steeno’s article states that “union representatives said the University’s reasons for switching to biweekly payroll were financial.” Of course the University is changing the payroll system for financial reasons. This is called “fiscal responsibility.” You don’t take on massive changes like this because you’ve nothing better to do. Having worked with payrolls for two-thirds of my employment here, I can attest to the fact that the system the University has been using is antiquated and outdated. For a few summers I was an employee on the regular (semimonthly) system. While our faculty members teaching in summer school were also on the semimonthly payroll system, they were paid at different rates from that of the academic year. Two copies of the summer school payroll forms had to be delivered by hand to their office for processing on a 24-hour turnaround, while a single copy of my payroll form was returned via campus mail or dropped off at Morrill Hall. In addition, we had a biweekly (hourly) system for some employees, and yet a third system (miscellaneous or lump sum) for others. And you think the University doesn’t need to simplify things to prepare for the 21st century?
The majority of us work because we need to, and some of us are fortunate enough to really enjoy our jobs. If you think that you’re being put out by a simple payroll change, I’d hate to think what the rest of your life is like. People learn by example and the examples I’m observing are not very complimentary to our already hurting society. I won’t argue that the University needs some fixes, but why don’t you listen up and become a contributing and productive member instead of prolonging dissension on such an issue?
Ramona French is an associate administrator for the Institute of Linguistics and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures.