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April 17, 2003

SAC refuses to endorse HR raise guidelines for staff at top of salary range

Staff Association Council (SAC) voted April 9 not to endorse Human Resources guidelines on awarding pay raises to staff who have reached the maximum pay range in their job classification.

Under the Staff Classification System, implemented July 1, 1999, a staff member’s base pay cannot exceed the maximum of the salary range, except under two exceptions, according to the document “Pay Over Maximum Statement (revised 2/12/03)”:

• Staff who, as of June 30, 1999, had a salary that was 90 percent or more of the maximum of the salary range established by the system; and

• Staff who have demonstrated meritorious/outstanding performance in their job performance appraisals or who have assumed additional duties. To be awarded a raise above the maximum salary, these staff must get their supervisor’s recommendation and senior administration approval.

But SAC members argued that these guidelines violate the University’s 1994 salary policy, which calls for maintenance of real salary for all staff who perform satisfactorily or better.

(The percentage of maintenance of real salary raise is determined annually, Policy 07-09-01 states. For this fiscal year, the percentage was 1.5 percent.)

SAC members said the guidelines also contradict assurances they received when Pitt’s administration implemented the Staff Classification System.

“When the Staff Classification System was adopted, staff were assured that salary ranges would be adjusted annually so that staff would not max out on their ranges,” said Rich Colwell, SAC vice president for steering. “This was done in previous years but not the current year.”

Human Resources officials have said that the maximum ranges probably will go up for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“But that does not address the unfairness of denying raises to staff who performed satisfactorily during the current year, who received [in effect] a 1.5 percent cut in real pay,” Colwell maintained. “Moreover, if this cut were allowed to stand, its effects would be compounded over the remaining years of the affected staff’s employment at the University.”

The Pay Over Maximum Statement had been the main topic at SAC’s last two for-members-only monthly meetings, according to SAC members.

The statement had been evaluated by the combined salary and job classification and benefits committees, and the steering committee, according to Carol Neuner, co-chair of the salary and job classification committee. Neuner said those committees voted overwhelmingly to oppose the pay statement.

According to Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources, some staff members did not receive raises this year because their salaries were at the top of the ranges of their classification, but Frisch declined to reveal the number of staff affected. He added that some staff who were in that category did receive raises, under the exceptional circumstances governed by the Pay Over Maximum Statement. That number also is confidential, he told the University Times.

Frisch did not attend the April 9 meeting where SAC voted not to support the pay statement.

(See related story on this issue.)

—Peter Hart

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