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June 10, 1999

University's pay hike policy for current year still under wraps

University's pay hike policy for current year still under wraps

Pitt faculty and staff who performed satisfactorily this year probably will receive 1.6 percent cost of living raises, at least, for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

And the University will not alter its current salary policy, which guides the senior administration in distributing salary funds according to cost of living, merit, market and equity considerations. However, the administration most likely will follow a flexible interpretation of the salary policy from now on.

Those two conclusions emerged from a lengthy, and sometimes cryptic, discussion at Monday's Senate Council meeting.

The vagueness resulted partly from the fact that Gov. Ridge has not yet signed off on Pitt's state funding for next year, so University budget planners don't know for sure how much money will be available for next year's raises. See story.

But mainly, the murky nature of Council's discussion can be attributed to the fact that this year's salary raise recommendations by the University Planning and Budgeting Committee (UPBC) aren't public yet, and won't be until UPBC approves the minutes of its last meeting.

After the minutes are approved, they will be published in the University Times.

In the meantime, administrators, staff and faculty who serve on UPBC have pledged not to divulge either the committee's salary raise recommendations for next year or details of UPBC's year-long examination of Pitt's salary policy.

But Provost James Maher, who chairs UPBC, told Senate Council that the committee has "reaffirmed" the current policy. "The committee said, 'Look, this is not a bad salary policy that we've got already, as long as you interpret it flexibly," the provost said.

By "flexibly," Maher meant interpreting the policy to mean that Pitt's chancellor may give equal consideration to all four types of raises (cost of living, merit, market and equity) in deciding how to distribute salary increases.

Over the years, some people — particularly faculty and staff representatives on Senate Council — have interpreted the policy to mean that all employees who perform satisfactorily must be rewarded with inflation raises, and only after that may salary money be allocated for merit, market and equity.

Pitt deans, among other people, had protested that interpretation as being too rigid.

UPBC's re-interpretation "does not mean an abandonment of cost of living issues," Provost Maher said, "but it does mean that all four of these categories have to be taken into account."

The Senate Council discussion was prompted by a resolution, passed by Faculty Assembly last week, that asks the administration to award minimum 1.6 percent raises to all employees who performed satisfactorily — "to satisfy the maintenance of real income objective that is stipulated in the salary policy." The percentage was based on last year's 1.6 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index.

The Senate's budget policies committee (BPC), during a closed-door session, also approved a resolution calling, in part, for 1.6 percent raises for satisfactory performance, according to BPC chairperson Richard Pratt.

Members of the University-wide UPBC wouldn't say so explicitly, but some hinted strongly that UPBC likewise is recommending cost of living raises for satisfactory performance.

— Bruce Steele

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