Earlier today university staff and faculty received a message from President Gamble that the Senate Finance Committee removed from the budget all funding associated with salary increases. Impacted are all union and non-represented employees in the State including the University of Alaska. While this is not final it is not the first or last bad news announcement we are hearing as the State struggles to overcome a huge budget deficit.
In the message he states: “The chancellors and I have had ongoing discussions about how best to make the cuts we know will be necessary, looking at all options available to minimize the impact to the people and programs that are so important to the University’s ongoing success and ability to help the state out of the current fiscal situation. Furloughs, reduced schedules and reduced pay increases have all been a part of this discussion, in addition to the prioritization and review work that will guide decisions on program and service cuts.”
As governance leaders we too are part of this discussion. Last month we sent out a survey asking staff to indicate if they would be willing to voluntarily take a reduced contract or work reduced hours. More than one thousand staff answered the survey. And while a little more than half indicated they could not afford to take a voluntary reduction, the other 49 percent indicated willingness and interest in a reduced schedule. In addition to the raw survey data there were hundreds of written comments and suggestions. Thank you so much to everyone who responded and shared this valuable feedback. It will be read, it will be used, and it is valuable information.
Next week I will again be speaking to the Board of Regents about staff concerns and successes. The concerns we have are many: the budget, cost cutting, potential furloughs, elimination of positions, increases in health care costs, decreases in workforce and rapid changes in policy. I could sure use some good news stories and successes to share as well!
As I prepare to address UA leadership I turn to staff for your suggestions, concerns, successes and fears. The better I know what is happening to individual staff the better I can address our concerns as a body. You can leave a comment here, email email@example.com, use the staff submission form https://www.alaska.edu/governance/staff-alliance/submissions/ or send comments back through your local governance representatives.
I also encourage all of you to pay careful attention to the news from Juneau during these final weeks of the legislative session. One of the best ways to keep up with how the university is faring throughout the session is the Capital Report: https://www.alaska.edu/state/report/. In addition 360 North Gavel to Gavel has full coverage of committee meetings and House and Senate sessions: http://www.360north.org/gavel-guide-2015/
One way or another your voice is very important right now, and shared governance is important channel to have it heard through. Thank you for your dedication to the university through these difficult times. Keep up the good work.
Chair Staff Alliance