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March 6, 2003

Staff pay ranges expected to expand

Maximum pay ranges for staff job classifications probably will be raised in the coming fiscal year, according to the head of Human Resources.

“We anticipate that the maximums of the salary ranges will increase this year, reflecting the local economy and the local competitive job market,” said Ronald Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources. “It is too early to tell, but by current [indications] the analysis does support an increase this year.”

Maximum ranges were frozen during the current fiscal year, the first time this was done since a new job classification plan was implemented in 1999. The freeze meant that staff at the top of their pay scale were ineligible for raises, except under exceptional circumstances.

“Several staff did receive an over-max increase following the recommendation of their supervisor and approval of the respective officer,” which are requirements for such staff to receive raises, Frisch said. He declined to say how many staff were in that category.

The Staff Association Council (SAC) at recent meetings had debated whether to bring a resolution to Senate Council recommending formal changes in the staff compensation policies. (See Feb. 20 University Times.)

But as a result of conversations with Pitt administrators, including Frisch and Executive Vice Chancellor Jerome Cochran, SAC’s steering committee last week tabled a resolution calling for formal changes to the compensation policies, according to SAC vice president for steering Rich Colwell.

Instead, Colwell said, SAC officers “have officially gone on record with Mr. Cochran, indicating that we do not support the capping off of the ranges, resulting in staff not able to receive compensation. SAC definitely supports the concept of the Staff Classification System, which has been fair and equitable and has also built realistic standards for staff. However, the requirement that a position is only worth a maximum amount of salary is contrary to our desires and is not, nor has it ever been, endorsed by SAC.”

SAC officers also discussed staff position cuts with Cochran at a Feb. 24 meeting, Colwell said. As the result of recent budget cuts, some staff, in the School of Social Work and other units, have been reassigned or offered confidential severance packages to leave the University.

According to Colwell, Cochran said that unit efficiency evaluations, which are performed by Human Resources at the request of the unit, sometimes lead to staff cuts or reassignments, at the discretion of the unit head.

However, Colwell said, “the SAC steering committee has taken a stand that one staff person who loses his or her job is too many, whether they are long- or short-term staff. We have been actively and aggressively working with Human Resources to develop a program to redeploy any staff person that has been displaced due to unit efficiency evaluations.”

Cochran was unavailable for comment, his staff said yesterday.

In other SAC developments resulting from the meetings with administrators, Colwell told the University Times:

• Staff who did not make it into work on Feb. 17 will be a docked a vacation or personal day per University policy. “Mr. Cochran said the governor’s office did issue a proclamation of disaster emergency, but that was unaccompanied by commuter directives. Neither the City of Pittsburgh nor Allegheny County officials issued commuter directives prohibiting travel. Subsequently, the University remained open to serve the needs of the out-of-class students,” Colwell said.

“The officers of SAC did relay our concerns on the safety of the staff traveling on the roads in such severe conditions. But we were reminded [by Cochran] that the University’s policy urges employees to use discretion in deciding whether commuting to work is safe.”

While the policy says that employees may use discretion regarding their own safety in getting to work, it specifies that they will be charged an accrued vacation day or personal day for their absence.

• SAC continues to push for mandatory training for supervisors. “Over the last couple of years, Human Resources has significantly increased supervisor training directed toward managing and developing staff,” Colwell said. “SAC has consistently recommended that this supervisory training be mandatory, which it is not currently, and that it also include faculty who supervise staff.”

• SAC decided to hold a members-only meeting March 12, its next regularly scheduled meeting, SAC officials said yesterday.

—Peter Hart

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