by Alisha Rosas
Editor in Chief
Results from the first year of a three-year salary plan to improve the compensation to faculty, administrative and professionals (A&P) and classified employees at the University of La Verne show that progress is being made.
ULV is in its second year of its three-year plan, which was put into effect in 1999. Data compiled for classified compared wages for the year 2001, while data used for faculty and A&P was compiled from the year 1999. Faculty and A&P wages were made in comparison to 21 other universities throughout the United States. Classified employees were in comparison to similar positions held throughout the Inland Empire.
The purpose behind the three-year salary plan is to place ULV employees less behind their competitors. However, when results were released to employees on Feb. 20 in a memo from Mark Nelson, professor of chemistry, reports initially showed positive progress made for both faculty and A&P employees, but showed no change at all in regard to how far behind classified employees were in their salaries.
A mistake, however, had been made within the data used. “He [Nelson] was provided with data, based on estimates and not real data. When he went out and found the real data, it changed the conclusion,” said Phil Hawkey, executive vice president.
“What he was looking at is whether we [ULV] have made progress in improving the compensation of classified employees, relative to the similar positions in the Inland Empire, and initially the report seemed to indicate that we made no progress, and that everything had remained the same. But when we looked back at the real data, it showed that we had made progress. All of the groups had made progress,” Hawkey said.
Hawkey also said that the three-year salary plan allows officials to calculate what the annual salary increase would cost the University to set aside each year. “Overall it was about $1.5 million, and that is not in salary, that’s just the increase for all the employees. It has been a major financial commitment by the University to allocate scarce resources into improving the salary positions of our employees,” he said.
According to updated reports, classified employees are separated into three grades. Grades one to three have 37 employees, grades four to six have 123 employees and grades seven to nine have 44 employees. Originally, the old figures (with estimates) revealed that every grade within classified was 15 percent behind in regard to compensation, the same as when the three-year salary plan was implemented. Current reports (without estimates) show that grades one to three are 12.1 percent behind; grades four to six are 9.1 percent behind and grades seven to eight are 6.9 percent behind, which is an improvement from prior years.
“When the original numbers came out, the biggest obstacle was how to get classified up to par with the rest of the groups,” said Bill Myers, chairman of the Classified Committee.
Sharon Davis, co-chair of the Faculty Salary Committee, said she remembers the common reaction members of the faculty had after hearing that classified compensation had no improvement.
“We were not only surprised, but we were sad. We were really concerned because the way the Faculty Salary Committee looked at it was [that]; ‘We’re all in this together.’ [After all], we’re all not particularly well paid, and we want to move up together,” she said.
Deborah Walden, chairperson for the Administrative Professional Personnel Committee, described how A&P employees felt when the old numbers were shared.
“As a committee, we were concerned that they appeared to be so far behind,” she said.
Myers said he recognized their actions. “I was impressed with the Administrative and Professional staff, as well as members of the faculty senate, who seemed willing to, at that time, give a portion of whatever percentage of their piece of the pie to ‘even out’ the inequities.”
“That seemed like something that would be possible, but it would have taken a lot of political maneuvering because [for] all three levels, we’re all way behind, no one comes here [to work] for the money,” Meyers said.
Walden said that she believes that the new numbers have made ULV employees happier than they were with the original numbers.
“I doubt if anyone is satisfied [with compensation], since everyone is still far behind. It is better than it was, but it is not where we want to be ultimately,” she said.
In regard to the new numbers causing skepticism by any group involved, Davis said that questioning was appropriate.
“A concern had been raised,” she said. “Then suddenly someone said, ‘Oops, those numbers have changed.’ I think it was really hard to change gears and say, ‘Oh, we’re reacting to something that really is not true.’ As a result, I think that for a time, there was some skepticism-‘What happened to these numbers? Why are they different? Can you really show us what you did because we are not entirely comfortable just being told the numbers have changed? We have to understand why those numbers have changed.”
“I think [for] classified, especially, but I think that it was a smart thing for classified to want to know,” she said. “Because they had been led to believe, for a period of time, that they were really doing poorly. The new numbers had to make sense to them before they could be accepted. So that skepticism was healthy and appropriate. It took a little bit of time for people to re-gear, to re-tool, to change what they had been thinking and say, ‘OK, so these are the numbers we need to be looking at,'” she said.
Hawkey said that he believes that the new numbers have been recognized.
“Everybody always wants more money, and yet there’s a sense of fairness and directness that people are communicated with for honesty,” he said. “So I think that allowed for an explanation to be accepted. I think they [the Classified Committee] were satisfied that the calculation was accurate,” he said.
Myers said he believes that the new numbers are accurate. “I have no reason to believe that there is anything sneaky [about the numbers] or anything like that. The committee feels very comfortable,” he said.
Opinions do vary, however, in regard to how the $1.5 million should be distributed among the three groups, faculty, A&P and classified.
Davis said that she believes that the money is “fairly divided” between the groups.
“I think we are starting to see, in some groups, a lot of variation within the groups. For example, we know in our faculty groups, [that] we have full professors, associate professors and assistant professors,” she said.
“We know that we are all behind. But we know that full professors are farther behind than assistant professors. We need to be able to attract bright, new, young assistant professors, but we also need to fairly compensate the full professors who have been here,” she said.
“As classified chairman,” Myers said. “I think it [the money] should be distributed equally among all three groups. Because yes, we do need more faculty, but support staff is needed in all areas as well.
“I do not think that it [equal distribution of funds] would happen because, in my opinion, I think that there is a level [of belief] that classified employees are a commodity that can be fairly easily replaced,” he said.
He continued, “I think that there is some truth to that, but I also think that there is a lot of loyalty, at least in the upper grades of classifieds. Other people in other departments might not feel that. I just think that there is a I don’t know.
“I hate to say that it is almost like a class system and that classified employees are considered on the lower-end of the class system. I hope it isn’t put in with low class, because I don’t feel low class. I feel proud of what we are doing,” Myers said. “The Classified Committee is working hard this year, as well as in the last several years, to bring us up to a level where we are more respected and we can improve with education and go to workshops and seminars rather than bake sales.”
“I understand that we need professors to teach the students and we need administrators and professional people to manage and maintain the campus in a business-like fashion and still keep it running, but I also feel that classified employees play a very major part in it,” Myers said.
“My working with Steve Morgan and Phil Hawkey, on the administrative side, they feel the same way. They have been very supportive and really behind us, as well as the majority of the faculty,” he said.
In regard to the status of progress the three-year salary plan has made thus far, Hawkey said, “Our goal was to pay [our employees] at 95 percent of the market. And that was 95 percent of the median. We haven’t been able to draw a complete conclusion yet because we haven’t finished the pay plan because we really won’t know until a year from now. Because July 1 is the start of the third year, and then the real assessment should happen late next spring, when we’re toward the end of the third year.”
“The comparison that was done, in terms of the real data, is only after the first year, which was June 30, 2000 because the first year went July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2000-which was the first year. The second year, was July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001. The third year will be July 1, 2001 and will end June 30, 2002. So all we’ve really been able to for sure see is the first year’s comparison,” he said. “We are making very positive progress.”