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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 9, 2007

P&S Council members talk money

by Erin Rosacker

Money was the hot topic at the Feb. 1 Professional and Scientific Council meeting -- including the flex pay program, a recommended P&S pay matrix and the recently completed AFSCME contract.

Associate provost Susan Carlson announced that the flexible pay program approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and developed for use at ISU has not been well-received by campus units. The program was designed to financially reward non-organized P&S staff for "extra-meritorious" performance.

"The overwhelming consensus was that the process we had put together was process-heavy and seemed unworkable," Carlson said. "So, at this moment, the units are all telling us, 'No, we don't think we want to implement this.'"

Carlson said that although units have not chosen to adopt the program, the process has generated good conversation about recognizing outstanding work by P&S employees.

"We realize we need more conversation," Carlson said. "[Provost] Betsy Hoffman has a lot of good ideas about supporting and rewarding staff from her prior experience. She's talked a lot about other things that we could be doing that we're not doing."

P&S pay recommendation gets first read

The compensation and benefits committee introduced a draft of FY08 P&S salary recommendations, which council members will vote on in the March 1 meeting. The draft requests that minimum and maximum salaries in the P&S pay matrix reflect the Midwest region urban consumer price index, which increased 2.44 percent in 2006.

The committee also recommends using the index (2.44 percent) as the minimum increase for employees who receive a satisfactory or better review. Anything lower, including no increase, would be intended for employees who receive unsatisfactory evaluations. This policy would be different from the current minimum increase, which is based on a percentage (approximately one-third) of the estimated average P&S salary increase. That recommended percentage was just 0.83 percent for FY07.

"If you take a look at the practice and the way that it's been handled, that one-third would really be punitive," said Virgil Schmitt, committee co-chair. "What we're really trying to do is to not reward substandard performance."

The committee recommends using remaining funds for performance, market and equity increases. If funding is an issue, the draft indicates that reallocated university resources should be used.

Union contract news

Carla Espinoza, associate vice president for human resources, confirmed that the state's union negotiations with AFSCME are complete and the two-year contract is in the process of getting ratified by the various unions. This contract covers merit employees at the regent institutions.

According to Espinoza, the portion of the contract dealing with regent schools remained virtually unchanged, but annual compensation moved up to 3 percent. The 4.5 percent anniversary date raise, which only applies to employees who have not reached their pay grade maximums, remains the same. Although the funds technically are a part of the state salary bill, ISU has not received money from the state salary pool for several years.

"We have asked to be back in the state salary bill this year," said Pat Strah, budget officer in the business and finance office. "I think the governor has implied that will be the case; we will have to wait and see. But it [union contract] is never funded 100 percent."

In other business:

  • Espinoza said that a draft policy regarding a performance management program has been forwarded to the policy library advisory committee. The performance management program would be a campus-wide performance evaluation system. Currently, there are no standardized policies or procedures.
  • Espinoza reported that ISU's employee tuition reimbursement benefit was increased to four credits per semester, effective immediately.
  • Shirley Huck, chair of the council's ad-hoc survey committee, announced that a 20-minute, Web-based survey for P&S employees is scheduled to go out in mid-February. According to Huck, it is the first comprehensive survey of P&S employees since 1999 and will cover a broad range of topics. A composite report of the answers should be out by late spring.
  • Staff in the provost office are preparing a survey that will go to all faculty, staff and students. The intent is to send it out before spring break. The survey will assess ISU's work on priority five of the strategic plan -- to "ensure that the university is a great place to learn and work."
  • The council approved the election plan presented by the representation committee, which reflects departmental changes and staggered terms to help balance turnover through the years. In all, the council gained one seat, bringing the total to 36 representatives. This year, 17 seats need to be filled. Nominations will be accepted Feb. 1-16 and the online election (via AccessPlus) takes place March 5-23.


P&S Council members will vote on an FY08 salary increase recommendation at the March 1 meeting.