Several groups argue inconsistencies in compensation

by Jeremy Taff

Several University constituent groups spent Wednesday afternoon lobbying the Board of Regents for more money from the school’s 1997-98 operating budget.
Representatives from several committees voiced their concerns about a proposed 8.5 percent salary increase that would affect faculty members but not all University employees.
Susan Weinberg, director of the University’s Real Estate Office and chairwoman of the Civil Service Committee, requested the board raise average compensation for all school employees whose salary is below market value.
“We wish the administration would share with the civil service employees who are under market a portion of the $13 million.”
The $13 million refers to a compensation pool that Weinberg said is supposed to be used to shore up the pay of employees whose salaries are below market value.
Weinberg said salaries for civil service positions on campus are 10 percent less than comparable public and private positions. “The U of M faculty and staff are a valuable human resource,” she said.
Joining Weinberg at the meeting were representatives from other committees including the Academic Staff Advisory Committee, and student Representative Matt Curry.
Cynthia Scott, one of four members of the advisory committee, which represents about 3,000 professional and administrative employees, said the present compensation plan violates school policy. That policy, she said, awards the same economic benefits to professional and administrative staff as faculty.
“The faculty were given a (8.5) percent pool of the money and the faculty deserve that pool of the money,” Scott said. “But regents’ policy states we are to be eligible for the same economic benefits as faculty and clearly this is not the same economic benefit.”
Under the proposed budget’s compensation plan, administrative and professional employees would get a 2.5 percent pay increase.
The compensation plans are merit-based, which adds to some of the confusion, Scott said.
“For example, if six people worked together one could get a 2 percent increase while another could get a 3 percent increase — as long as the average came out to 2.5 percent,” Scott said.
“We realize that there are inconsistencies and personnel not being paid at the market rate and that needs to be corrected,” said Board of Regents Vice Chair Patricia Spence.
Spence said she understands the Civil Service Committee’s concerns, but said it wasn’t possible to give all employee groups the same increase.
“Spread it out to faculty and civil service employees and we wouldn’t be able to raise either group to the mean compensation rate,” she said.
Spence added that if the committee has salary information that the University doesn’t, then the board “definitely needs to address it and do something about it.”
After the forum, Spence attended an honorarium for civil service and bargaining unit employees who have worked at the University for 20 years or more. Two honorees had worked at the University for 50 years.
“They have worked here for 20 to 50 years,” Spence said. “Their working conditions and their salaries should be making them feel good about working here.”