March 10, 2011

Council debates salary recommendation

by Erin Rosacker

Although poised to push through a recommendation on salary increases for fiscal year 2012 at their March 3 meeting, members of the Professional and Scientific Council will wait until April for a decision.

"This is not an easy discussion to have," said Virgil Schmitt, chair of the compensation and benefits committee. "It looks like the best case scenario is that we will have level funding from the state. It is very likely it is going to be less as we look forward for this year, and perhaps for coming years also. Any salary increase, the money for that is probably going to be at least partially offset with a decrease in faculty or staff numbers."

"The proposed resolution recounts measures that have impacted P&S salaries in the last two years, including:

  • Lack of state salary appropriation increases since FY09
  • Mandatory furloughs
  • Temporary reduction in university contributions to TIAA-CREF accounts
  • Increase in employee health care contributions

Citing the loss of the "best and brightest," the proposed resolution recommends salary increases for employees who receive performance appraisals of satisfactory or better. Use of additional funds for performance, market, equity and retention also is recommended.

Schmitt said the committee felt that the "share the pain" sentiment of two years ago, which favored salary freezes over position cuts, has diminished.

"We recognize that anything we do might appear self-serving, because it could be at the expense of other people," said president-elect Ken Kerns. "I think it's important that we make our voice known, no matter how painful it is for us. This will affect a lot of people we work with, but also us and our families. It's not a good thing to talk about, but it's a reality that we're facing right now."

Some said the changes of the last few years no longer are temporary, and that the university already is different and continues to evolve.

"I think there is a perception out there that funding will get better in the future. Des Moines has set a precedent over the last two years, and that's probably not going to be the case. So, are we just delaying the inevitable?" said council member Dave Biedenbach.

In other business

  • Senators approved a motion to change the timing of elections, moving them closer to the end of the academic year. A new president-elect will be selected in March and officers will be voted on in May.
  • Carla Espinoza, vice president for human resource services, said 43 employees have been approved for the phased plus retirement program (19 faculty, 13 P&S, 11 merit). The application deadline is April 30.