FY14 Compensation Memo From President Gamble

On November 1 Staff Alliance members received the following memorandum from UA President Pat Gamble regarding the staff compensation increase for the FY14 budget. A 3.25% increase has been included in the operating budget being brought before the Board of Regents Wednesday Nov. 7  for their approval. Staff Alliance Chair Juella Sparks will be there to give a report from governance and observe the proceedings.

What do you think of this compensation increase? We will report back on how the Regents vote. Please stay in touch!

StaffCompensationMemo From President Gamble to Staff Alliance.

UPDATE: The Board of Regents approved the FY14 budget with the 3.25% increase for staff. The budget will now go to the Gov. Sean Parnell for his consideration.

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28 Comments

Filed under Benefits, Compensation, Staff Communication

28 responses to “FY14 Compensation Memo From President Gamble

  1. Arlot Hall

    This does little to offset the increased cost of health care. Working for the university as a staff employee is increasingly becoming untenable particularly for single parents.

    • Jerry

      http://www.nbcnews.com/business/3-percent-pay-raise-new-normal-2013-1C7103235
      What we are experiencing is not unique to the University. I’ve been in contact with siblings who live on the East Coast and pay is horrid in most sectors and benefits can sometimes be virtually non-existent. We have it pretty good by comparison. Paying for health care and controlling costs is a national problem and not something the University is screwing up.

      That being said, I think there is room for improvement. As someone else said, there are enough intelligent people in the University to try and come up with creative solutions that, while not making a solution that makes everyone happy, could do better than we are.

      Improvements can be made in pay scale. Losing the ability to benefit from longevity and increased skills is demoralizing as well as counter-productive. There’s no benefit to me improving my job skills except a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach and the ability to look elsewhere for employment.

      The University administration can also pay a little closer to its image to it’s employees. When pay is not keeping pace with inflation, there’s no room for mobility, when health benefits reduce your take-home pay at an increasing rate for less coverage…. it’s absolutely devastating to morale to have the University president get a bonus equal to 8x some people’s pay JUST FOR SIGNING HIS CONTRACT plus a amazing raise when the people who keep this place running are going downhill in living standard. It probably doesn’t look so great to the legislature too.

  2. Margaret

    It doesn’t even help with the cost of living especially when we do not receive a step increase or anything any more. By staff employee, I think Arlot may mean Administrative staff, non exempt are taking home less in paychecks this year than they did last year. Administrative staff pay isn’t competitive any more and there is no way to compensate for it.

  3. Casey

    I realize the compensation efforts are difficult at best and understand the dismay many of my fellow staff employees feel when faced with what is perceived to be, such a small increase in wages for the following FY. However, as I have worked here for just over 13 years I also understand the huge cost associated with every percentage increased. I can see why the legislature is reluctant at times to grant such large sums of money for increases, when there are no motivating factors to do so, in many of their minds.

    This has always been a hard sell from both the floor (staff) and the bench (Legislature.) That being said we can not ignore the stark realities that plague those that represent the University and do much of the grunt work, for which the Faculty and students would suffer without their skilled assistance. We (staff) also deserve to be recognized for our service and not overlooked in the best of times and certainly not now during the worst of times.

    The cost of insurance is a major concern for many across this great nation. When the amount we pay, out of our pay checks effectively causes our take home pay to decrease and for many to reverse, the over all moral and desire to work for the University starts to plummet. These are simple realities that we all must struggle with and own up to, and work together to find solutions. I am pleased to see Staff and Faculty and the President take them seriously.

    I am not sure there is a solution that will ever fully cover everyone’s concerns to the fullest extent, but I do believe we are at least headed in the right direction for once.

  4. Mary

    My comment is not so much about this increase, but about the results of a previous one. The 1% pay increase that was implemented earlier this year in the form of a step increase did not work for those who are “red-circled” at the end of their pay grade. If this is going to be used more in the future as a method of giving a cost of living increase, while also “decompressing” the number of folks on entry level steps (as it was explained to me), please make a provision for employees who have run out of room to progress that does NOT require active participation by either the employee or their supervisor. An approved COLA should be AUTOMATIC, otherwise only those “red-circled” folks who are fortunate enough to have supervisors or HR departments with the time to follow up on this will ever see these raises. I know, I got caught in this trap and lost out on that pay increase. 😦

  5. Tim

    I’m new here and heavily in debt because of the incredible expense of having to move here from the east coast, for which I received a reimbursement that covered less than half of my expenses – all for yet another job for which I’m guaranteed only 9+3 months of employment, and for which I’ve had to take a cut in pay and move to a place with a higher cost of living. The inevitable anxiety associated with such financial obligations and job-uncertainty has made the adjustment tremendously difficult and I fear the effect it may have on my output – though I’m working hard to get past all that.

    Still, if you make a guy anxious enough to the point where his work may be suffering, while simultaneously telling him he’d better do well during his first nine months you only make him more and more anxious as those months go by, and his work may suffer more. Why doesn’t anyone ever consider the effect this can have on what they get out of their employees – employees who have worked their tails off to get advanced degrees?

    I really like my job, the research I’m doing, and my boss a lot. I appreciate being here, having the opportunity to work with such a great scientist and person, and just having a job. I appreciate this little pay increase too, but I’d trade it for the promise of even just another year of employment in a heart-beat. What I really need is a sense of security. Can you give me that instead?

  6. Cathy

    I agree this does little to offset the high cost of health care insurance. I find it so hard to understand how the president received such a large raise, but the administrative staff who work so extremely hard to keep programs going, receive nothing. More and more people are leaving UAF for better paying, better benefits. It seems we are all complaining, but we are tired of what continues to happen. Please help us out here.

    • Linda

      Exactly. 3% for someone who makes over $100K or greater annually is almost what I make in base salary. Hardly seems fair with “the cream at the top” making out like bandits.

  7. Walker

    It is troubling to see key living expenses, such as health care and fuel, increase at a much faster rate than the annual wage increase that is supposed to adjust for those changes. However, I worked in the private sector before being hired at the university and even with the changes over the last few years, I am very thankful for the working conditions and opportunities offered at UAF.

    For example, at my previous job over 6 years ago I was paying almost $400 a month for my health insurance coverage, with higher deductibles, more exclusions, limited dental and no vision coverage at all. Working at the university provides much better coverage for half of the cost, even with the changes over the last couple of years. As frustrating as it is at times to feel the pinch of a “shrinking” paycheck, I know it is tougher for many workers outside the university system to make ends meet.

    I would like to see UAF come up with more innovative solutions for the challenges we are facing. As an institution of higher learning, we should have some of the most intelligent and creative people available working on campus. We have the expertise, I just think as an organization we need to be more willing to venture outside of the standard bureaucratic box to find creative solutions. As a “front-line” employee, I am not sure if there is a mechanism for making suggestions for process improvements, cost-saving measures, or general innovations besides my direct supervisor. I would also like to see more in house professional development training opportunities offered.

  8. Bob

    I couldn’t say it better than Casey above, I enjoy working here and I know that getting the legislature to invest in the state’s future rather than give money to resource extraction multinational companies is difficult. I’m grateful of the efforts of the President and his staff in convincing the legislature to do the right thing. What I wish to provide is research I have done and reality as I see it.

    Since I began here in 1994 the cost of living has gone up in Anchorage (no data for Fairbanks) 45%. If you lump cost of living and step increases since 1994 you get 49.4% increase. If the Consumer Price Index is accurate, which I will call into question later, my nearly 20 years experience equates to a less than a 5% increase in salary.

    When faculty are hired they are considered experts in their fields and have two opportunities for promotions and pay increases. Staff are not necessarily hired as experts. If their position is entry level they may get hired if they meet minimum qualifications. The step grid of the past provided a means to compensate for years of experience that you brought to your job. The university should be able to not only keep pace with inflation but find a way to compensate the increased experience of staff.

    I want to relate my personal experience with paying for health care. I still go to the same clinic I went to in 1994. Back then it was because they had a sliding scale and as a student it was all I could do to pay my bills. I have stuck with them through the years. Even though I did not pay the full cost I did see that a general exam cost $39.95, today I pay full price and a 15 minute exam costs $160.00. A more involved exam in 1994 would have cost the same $39.95 now a more involved 20-30 minute exam costs $266.00. If I were to show the same percentage increase in my salary from student to staff compared to the increase in the cost of a doctors examination I would go from a student assistant making $7.25 an hour to somewhere between a E-2 and E-3 executive administrator. I dont know how accurate the CPI for Alaska is, it certainly does not reflect my experiences.

    • Margaret

      Well, I’ve been at the U for 17 years and in the last 12 years my over all pay per hour has gone up $10.14, plus I have health insurance and retirement benefits. Someone do the math and let me know if this is a good rate of pay increase per year to keep up with the economy.

  9. Susan

    One solution may be to get personal leave instead of sick and annual leave. If personal leave isn’t used before a person leaves the Univ, then like state employees at other agencies, we can cash leave out if it isn’t used. Now, if leave isn’t used, it’s lost. We should be compensated for all leave.

    • Mary

      This might be a good idea for Tier IV. The last time this issue was seriously looked at several years ago, the outcome would have been the replacement of sick and annual leave with a “personal leave” accrual rate that was much less than what we have today. I would personally advocate for something else (for PERS Tiers 1-3): the option to have all unused sick leave converted to service credit when you leave.

      • Casey

        Agreed… I would not advocate for personal leave, as they would take your combined leave as it stands now and convert it to personal leave at a reduced amount. This is would not be an equitable option for most.

      • Susan

        Service credit could work. Losing leave is further erosion of our compensation.

      • Mary

        Service credit conversion might also help with sick leave abuse by employees who view it as “use it or lose it” leave.

    • Brenda Henderson

      I disagree. The Municipality of Anchorage went to paid time off instead of sick and vacation leave, and employees wound up with less time when it was combined, and fewer holidays. You can cash in vacation leave without losing it; if you’re fortunate enough not to get sick and accrue lots of sick leave, it can be donated to other employees who may be on family medical leave longer than anticipated. I like the fact that the longer you work here, the more vacation time you accrue each pay period.

  10. Anne

    I really appreciate all the comments left by staff. You are all bringing up very good points, and counter-points. I do appreciate the proposed increase, after seeing small or no increases over the past couple of years. With escalating health costs, I am receiving a smaller paycheck, and a higher deductible in health coverage than in the past. I am hopeful that we will be able to exist on our retirement when the time comes, let alone be able to afford health care.

    • Casey

      A coworker recently retired and went to the appropriate meetings and such required to vacate her job upon retirement. She was TER1 and will not have to pay for medical coverage upon leaving as a result. I asked her to check and see how much it would cost me as of today for my health care coverage, if I retired today. What it would cost me being TER3… the response blew me away. It would cost me over $800 a month to retain my coverage if I retired tomorrow. So, I stayed for over 10 years here at the University to retain this great privilege, and my retirement check will be cut in half practically just paying for my health care coverage. There is no way I will be able to afford this! So what is the point of it all? Still contemplating…

  11. Bits and Pieces

    Staff are not united, with or without a union. It doesn’t make a difference whether there is a union or not, what will make a difference is when staff unite, and not just for compensation reasons. How can staff expect to be taken seriously and have their voice heard when they remain fragmented. Every once in a while a group of staff will gather on certain topics (smoking hiring policy, code of conduct, health care, etc.) then revert to the fragmented state (like oil and water when shaken). Come on people, what’s needed is an emulsifier that serves to bond staff together and stay together. If you want your voice to be heard it needs to be shouted from the rooftops through a collective megaphone. As long as staff remain fragmented the system will always cut and take from the weakest links. Of course people are leaving, they are not valued and compensated accordingly (and not just with pay).
    Wake up and smell the coffee, open your eyes, look around; you’re the only place in the system cuts can be made without cutting student programs. Apparently staff is not really needed (valued) to operate a university so you might as well get ready for the next round of cuts, unless you plan on doing something about it. – Just saying…

    • a supervior

      How do you propose we do such a thing? Even supervisors hands are tied when it comes to wanting to do something for their staff.

      • Bits and Pieces

        Staff governance (Staff Council) is one place to start. Currently only 50% of staff council members even show up to meetings and there is little to no involvement from the general staff population (except for Staff Appreciation Day); that should say something right there. The only avenue staff has to collectively voice their opinion is crippled by non-involvement. Staff needs to GET INVOLVED, go to the meetings, take their concerns, spread the word, and gather momentum that can’t be stifled , DO SOMETHING, but don’t do nothing.

  12. frustated

    I think it’s frustrating to see people who do less, get paid almost as much as you when you have been here far longer and have more responsibility than they do, plus you are a supervisor. It’s hard to watch them get bumped up to the same grade and just about make the same amount that you do. This classification system works against staff too. It takes so much to have someone regraded because the descriptions are so general instead of looking at what a person is really doing on a job.

  13. FB

    Other way to compensate and reward staff is time off 🙂

  14. SingasongAK

    On the topic of compensation, it is difficult for any of us to speak to this issue without speaking from an emotional viewpoint. As a single income household I too am taking home less this year than last year, due to the incredible increase in health care costs. The annual increase approved by the Board of Regents, though nice, did not even begin to cover the new health care costs. However, we do have jobs. And we have the option of having health care coverage if we choose to pay our portion. If we take a step back from the “emotion” of this issue, and view with a global perspective, we are incredibly fortunate. Yes, I would love to make more $$$ in my paycheck, but I am thankful that I even HAVE a job and paycheck. If you have time, take a look at the article below. At a proposed increase of 3.25% for 2014, we will fare better than many area’s in the country, not to mention the world. I think, as noted by “Bits and Pieces” the way to bring about change is to stop whining about how you are being unfairly and unjustly treated. If you want to see change, get off your duff and make an effort on behalf of yourself and your co-workers. Remember, “one bad apple can spoil the barrel” . . . Do you really want to be the rotten apple? Here is the link to the article:
    http://www.nbcnews.com/business/3-percent-pay-raise-new-normal-2013-1C7103235

  15. Carol

    I have worked at a University for the past 14 years. I am appalled at the increases and even bonuses that upper management get when the “grunts” do their work. A university could not survive without the hard work that many of us as admins do on a daily basis so why aren’t we rewarded? Why does the President of UA, the Chancellors, the Provosts, Deans and the Directors and so on down to the working bees continue getting bonuses and enormous raises? Why aren’t more people asking? In fact, why aren’t those higher ups refusing their increases or at very least minimizing them so that their people can pay their rent and utilities. I do not in any way support the spreading of wealth but I do support fairness in how people are compensated. For those that continue to do a great job they should have the ability to make step increases appropriate to that work.

    I haven’t until the very recent thought about going into the private sector. I am good at what I do and have been offered jobs over the years but I find that I enjoy being around education and students but as I near retirement and see that my retirement won’t be enough to support me and I have Tier 4 so will have no ability for insurance I am distraught and considering going elsewhere where I am treated with dignity and my performance rewarded.

    • Linda

      Carol, My sentiments are 100% with what you say (I can rarely say that about any one writing either). 3% on $100K is more than what some people even make around here, and yet minimal “survival” costs per person are close to equal. Any yes, many times it is the “worker bees” that are the foundation. Management should take care of their employees, not the other way around. In the private sector, good capitalism, likes and pays well for valuable employees (I’ve been there).

      Thanks for speaking out.

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