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July 6, 1999

Information about classification system still being disseminated

Information about classification system still being disseminated

Reactions to the new staff classification system have been limited in part because many staff have not received their individual classification statements.

That is not surprising, according to a Human Resources official.

Jim Edgerton, assistant vice chancellor for compensation and benefits, told the University Times that staff should expect to receive personalized statements outlining their new classification by mid-July. The statements have been sent to a central person in each unit for distribution.

"But it all depends on a unit's culture when the information, including the personalized statements, gets distributed," Edgerton said. "Each unit is a little different. Administrators are deciding when to give the information to their staff, based on vacation schedules and when they can get together for a presentation."

Human Resources will continue to make site visits at a department's request to provide information and answer questions, he said.

Edgerton said that in the first full week of July Human Resources had fewer than 15 queries on the plan from staff. He expects that number to go up after all staff are apprised of their individual classification.

Of the 30 staff members surveyed this week by the University Times, more than half had not received their personalized statements, and a majority of those interviewed had no opinion about the plan.

The personalized statements are a summary of a staff member's former classification name, new classification name, new job family, current annual salary and new salary range (pay grade), including the minimum, mid-point and maximum pay allowable for the job. (Current salaries of part-time staff are presented on an adjusted 100 percent equivalent level.)

The plan, implemented July 1 through Human Resources, affects staff on all five University campuses, except unionized employees and some upper administration. It introduces streamlined job classifications, new job families, fewer and broader salary ranges and consistent working titles, according to Human Resources officials.

Under the plan, staff members' job responsibilities, job descriptions and salaries remain unchanged, except for about 125 staffers whose salaries were raised to the minimum pay range of their newly assigned job families.

Brochures outlining the new plan went out to staff via campus mail during the last week of June. At the same time, administrative units received the employees' personalized statements for distribution, as well as a video outlining the plan and newly compiled salary administration guidelines for supervisors involved in salary decisions.

Human Resources also has established a web site outlining the job families and including a slide presentation and frequently asked questions.

However, the list of 12 pay grades, which are ranges consolidated and broadened from the 25 pay ranges of the previous system, is not available on the web site.

According to Edgerton, Human Resources has not put the pay grades on the web site because Pitt wants to withhold that information from its competitors.

"Information regarding pay grades is available to all current staff members, either through their supervisors, who have copies, or through [the units' designated] Human Resources client services representative," Edgerton said. There are nine representatives serving the University, he said; staff can learn the name of their representative by calling 624-8044.

Edgerton also said job postings will continue to list salary in the minimum to the mid-point range, unless a department requests otherwise. "This is because new hires are almost always hired in that range," he said.

Staff Association Council (SAC) president Rich Colwell said SAC is generally supportive of the new system.

"We have asked for this for a long time, 10 years or more, so I'm glad there's finally something in place," Colwell said.

"However, I still have reservations about a few things, including the maximum salaries. My personal feeling is that staff would have been better off if [the new system] had grandfathered all current staff and not just those in the 90 percent [of the new pay grade] range. But I take the word of [Executive Vice Chancellor] Jerry Cochran, who told the staff assembly that no long-term staff would be negatively affected by this new system."

Cochran told the June 8 assembly that staff whose salaries, as of July 1, are at 90 percent or above their new pay grade maximum will be grandfathered and not subject to the maximum for the range.

But promoted or transferring staff (including a lateral-position move), as well as staff who leave Pitt and return, will lose their grandfathered status, Cochran said. (See University Times June 10.)

According to the informational brochure on the system, the maximum of a pay range is the top amount the University will pay for any job assigned to a particular pay grade, regardless of annual salary increases.

Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources, told Staff Association Council June 9 that pay ranges will be evaluated each year based on job market comparisons and will go up annually, ensuring that no staff member will reach the maximum, at least for the next five years.

At the plan's implementation, fewer than 5 percent of all staff are earning 90 percent or more of their maximum range, Edgerton said. "Staff in that category also are getting a message to that effect as part of their personalized statements," he added.

Human Resources recommends that questions about a staff member's individual pay be directed to that person's supervisor.

For questions regarding the staff classification system, call 648-2067, or e-mail

A classification plan web site,, has been operational since June 28.

–Peter Hart

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