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October 27, 2016

New OT rules concern SAC

Concern over the new federal overtime regulations that take effect Dec. 1 was the focus of a lengthy closed meeting of the Staff Association Council (SAC) on Oct. 19 and prompted SAC members to begin airing their concerns to Cheryl Johnson, new vice chancellor for Human Resources.
The mandatory overtime threshold will be raised from the current $23,660 annual wages to $47,476 under changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (See May 26 University Times.)

The change may affect as many as 2,000 positions at Pitt. According to a May letter from Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, some salaried employees who make less than the threshold amount may be eligible for overtime pay once the change takes effect; other employees may see a raise, bringing them above the overtime-eligible threshold.

The federal government has not changed the overtime threshold in more than two decades.

“Those salaries haven’t been raised for over 20 years,” Johnson told the SAC meeting. “I know it’s a long time coming and we’re working through all of that.”

SAC member Matthew Richardson, coordinator of fraternity and sorority life in Student Affairs, told Johnson: “One of the biggest concerns we have as staff members is the ripple effect” from the new overtime rules. “What is this going to do to the classification system? If you get bumped up to 47 [thousand dollars per year], is your classification going to be bumped up and does that matter?

“A lot of the concern that I have heard from staff,” Richardson said after the SAC meeting, “is that the change from salaried to hourly employees will allow for others to know who makes above and below the $47,000 threshold. If an employee has evening responsibilities and is changed to an hourly employee per FLSA, they may have to change their hours to come in at a significantly later time than 8:30 a.m. As such, he or she may not be available to meet with students, staff or other stakeholders during regular business hours.”

Also, he added, “The change in schedule was made because that individual is below the threshold; thus, one can deduce that that individual does not make over $47,000. This can lead to disharmony among departments.”

Richardson encouraged individual departments to hold town hall-type meetings to discuss the changes. “Senior staff should not be the only people discussing this,” he said.

The SAC meeting discussion was ended when a motion was made to move it to the organization’s staff relations committee, with whom Cheryl Johnson agreed to meet.


In other SAC news:

• President Rich Colwell and parliamentarian Fiona Seels reported that Pitt retirees soon will be allowed to apply to keep their Pitt email addresses upon retirement. “The details aren’t finalized,” said Colwell, following meetings with several Pitt administrators. However, added Seels, “It’s definitely going to happen.”

The new email policy will not take effect until at least February, she said, when University email addresses will be moved from local servers to cloud storage.

Pitt also is likely to require an out-of-office message to be sent automatically from retirees’ University email accounts for a period of three-six months, so that those writing to the former employee on business will know to seek a response from an alternative Pitt employee. Those with addresses still will have access to wireless internet on campus.

• SAC has scheduled four upcoming noon brown bag presentations in its annual series: Benefits 101 on Nov. 1 in the William Pitt Union (WPU) ballroom; Philanthropy on Nov. 15 in the WPU ballroom; Level Reporting (in reference to interdepartmental charges) on Nov. 17 in the WPU Assembly Room; and Holiday Cultural Traditions on Dec. 8 in the WPU ballroom. Register at

—Marty Levine 

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 5

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