Staff had not even finished the discussion, but the Pima College board made decisions regarding salary increases for all employees as described in an email that employees received this past week:
“I am pleased to announce that our Governing Board earlier tonight approved a salary increase for PCC staff, regular faculty and non-executive administrators for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The salary increase is a reflection of the fact that our most valuable asset is our hardworking employees. You are the backbone of the College.
Here are the details of the increases:
· Non-exempt staff will receive a 3 percent salary pool increase to fund steps for those who attain a step, with the remainder of the pool to be used to lift the schedule.
· Exempt staff will receive a 2 percent salary schedule lift.
· Faculty will receive a 3 percent salary pool increase to fund steps.
· Non-executive administrators will receive a 1 percent salary schedule lift.
Under the plan approved by the Board, the College’s 12 executive administrators will not receive a salary increase. They will receive a 0.5 percent pay supplement to offset increases in retirement costs.”
Steps involve paperwork and the completion of a year with the college for any Pima College employee to receive this yearly pay raise, but this year exempt staff will not be getting the yearly pay raise. The crux of the matter is that they have rarely gotten yearly pay raises for varying reasons. In fact, I have been at the College for 16 years and I believe I am now on step 3 (that’s right, the concept is that you get a step increase for each year you have been at the college if you do the paperwork).
But even more concerning is that employees thought the pay raises were still under discussion as indicated in the letter below from one of the employee groups. Apparently employees were, once again, not part of the board’s decision-making process, which again reinforces what HLC and everyone have been saying is the problem at Pima College – the board never did, and still is not, listening. So how are things going to be able to change under this board?
|Dr. Brenda B. Even, Chairperson
Pima Community College Board of Governors
4905C E. Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85709
The Association of Classified Exempt Staff (ACES) represents all exempt staff at the College, and has had a long history of collaborative work with the Board of Governors.
As you know, at the Board of Governors meeting on Friday evening, employee salaries were discussed and voted on. The Board was presented with four well-researched proposals. Each of those proposals had a rationale for its structure, was equitable, and met the budget needs of the College.
Unfortunately, the Board chose to virtually ignore the research and rationale provided to them. As a body, you played politics with the numbers to give the impression that you are holding employees accountable for the current state of the College.
By moving from the proposals presented to you and defining which groups would get steps, you also stepped away from the Meet and Confer process to make a unilateral decision that has traditionally been made by the employee groups. The Board has adopted exempt salary changes without ACES agreement or approval and prior to the completion of Meet and Confer. We have yet to sign off on our salary provision for next year, and there seems little point in it now as Meet and Confer has basically been circumvented. Are you now moving away from Meet and Confer entirely, despite calls for more shared governance?
Salary increases, like it or not, are a direct reflection of how the College values one’s work. Somewhere in your conversation, the sense of equity and fairness that the presented proposals provided was lost, and exempt staff raises were reduced to two percent. This goes against a decades-long history of equi-ty in salary increases across employee groups. More than that, this sends a clear message to all exempt staff: The Board values our work less than the work of faculty or non-exempt staff. Does the Board of Governors feel that moving away from equity in increases is in the best interests of the College? What data supports that decision?
Perhaps you feel that our salaries are already too high, despite the fact we are as well-educated as our faculty colleagues, supervise staff, work twelve months of the year, receive no overtime pay, and have far more complex duties than most positions in the workforce.
Perhaps it was a mistake, and you did not mean to single exempt staff out for this treatment. The Board’s grasp of parliamentary procedure seems tenuous at times, as evidenced by the confused way this proposal was amended and approved. The amendment process was so chaotic that one Board member voted against her own proposal. Did you really intend to take this action?
Perhaps you feel we should be happy to get a raise at all, when so many outside the College community will not. We were happy to receive a lower increase with our faculty colleagues to bolster the salary increase for non-exempt staff as was outlined in the third scenario you were presented. We were even happy to get a lower increase, as in the second scenario, as long as that burden was shared by all employees. But being singled out for this lower increase, with no rationale supporting it is wrong.
Singling exempt staff out for this low increase is also clearly not a budget-driven issue for the College. As the smallest non-administrator employee group, the savings from this action are minimal compared to the costs associated with funding steps for the other employee groups. What data did you use to generate two percent as the necessary number? Why did you decide to fund greater increases for faculty and non-exempt staff to the detriment of exempt staff?
I have received many calls and emails from exempt staff since you made this ill-considered decision on Friday night. Exempt staff are not just disappointed, not just worried about how to pay our bills. We are angry. For a Board that has recently touted transparency and healing, this action represents several steps backward.
Your move away from fair and equitable salary increases seems to signal a new and adversarial rela-tionship between the Board and exempt staff. If that was your intention, you have certainly set a new direction for the College. If that was not your intention, and you want to maintain the cordial and collaborative relationship with exempt staff, restore equity to the salary increases before next year’s budget is set.
If nothing else, please respond to the questions that your actions have raised as outlined in this letter and communicate your justification for introducing inequity to the compensation practices of the College.
Jason Brown ACES President