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Classified, administrative staff push for equity salary increase

The three-year plan aims to close ULV’s pay gap.

salary proposal graphicKevin Garrity
Editor in Chief

The Budget Advisory Task Force is considering a proposal to increase the annual salary of classified employees and administrative/professional employees by $3,000 and $2,400 per year, respectively.

In a meeting last week that was well attended by members of both groups of employees, Jim Irwin, financial operations manager, presented the proposal that calls for an average salary increase of 4.8 percent.

“There was a classified survey… and one of the outcomes of that survey was that they were not satisfied with their compensation,” Irwin said. “It became pretty evident that several (pay) grades for both AP and classified employees are below market midpoint. And when you have the majority of your (pay) grades below market midpoint, many of which are 10 percent or more below the midpoint, then that became alarming to us.”

Market midpoint is determined by an accumulation of data from surrounding areas that averages the annual salaries of people doing similar jobs.

As of 2010 average salaries of La Verne classified and administrative/professional employees were within just 86 percent of the market midpoint.

Because of University-wide budget cuts last year, there have been no general pay increases since 2008.

“I think it is a very reasonable, conservative proposal,” said Richard Gelm, chairman of the history and political science department and a member of the task force. “And I think it has a good shot at passing. It’s been too long for the classified employees to not have their voices known. (They) have been overlooked for a long time.”

“It’s not like we didn’t consider negotiating practices, ask high and expect the amount to be cut,” Irwin said. “However when we began looking at our flat dollar amount proposal it is actually pretty significant. It’s over a million dollars and it does what we want it to do, which is give higher paid percentages for the lower paid employees.”

If President Stephen Morgan approves the proposal, it would increase the University’s budget by $1.044 million.

“I thought the presentation was well presented and explained (the issue) in layman terms, which was good,” said Frank Montalvo, chief human resources officer.

“It’s a matter of priorities, there is only so much money and pay compensation is only a piece, a big piece, but only a piece. The whole package also needs to be considered not just pay. Things like retirement benefits, health benefits, tuition remission and the University’s work environment,” Montalvo added.

Irwin added that it was Morgan’s idea to give the classified a slightly larger dollar amount which both committees found extremely helpful.

With a recent surge of applicants and the University’s surplus, Irwin explained that the proposal is well within the means of La Verne’s budget but other considerations must come into account.

There are no hard numbers as to how much enrollment will increase the next fiscal year and the state of California’s economy makes it difficult to gauge how much Cal Grant money will be left for the University, which could have a significant impact on next year’s budget.

“We think we have a pretty good chance of (the pay increase) passing,” Irwin said. “Perhaps not the exact dollar amount that we requested; it may be slightly less.”

But I think you can tell that the (Taskforce was) very supportive of it, and knowing that we already met with President Morgan in December, it seemed he was very fond of the proposal we were preparing at that time. I’m pretty confident we are going to get something through that the employees are going to feel appreciative of,” Irwin added.

“I understand that it might be too modest but I think it is also somewhat realistic,” said Doug Waite, manager of student life services and chairman of the administrative/professional committee. “It’s probably a fair proposal based on the University’s history with pay increases. I would be surprised if we didn’t get something in an increase.”

Irwin’s proposal also detailed the benefits of increasing wages as a tool for employee retention, because of the amount of money it takes to replace employees who leave for different jobs. The proposal indicated that it costs the University $15,000-$20,000 per employee to replace them and that loss of institution knowledge is immeasurable.

In the past five years, the average turnover rate is 15 percent, costing La Verne $900,000 per year.

“There is no perfect compensation model,” Irwin said. “So what you need to do is find the best model for the University of La Verne.”

Kevin Garrity can be reached at kevin.garrity@laverne.edu.

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