Oct 26, 2015Vol. 46, Issue 2

Workforce Equity, Compensation

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series by President Paul Zingg addressing issues important to the future of the campus. They are aimed at helping CSU, Chico's next president recognize progress made by the University and build on it in leading the campus to the next level of achievement and distinction. A September 8, 2015, column was titled “Student Access, Inclusion and Success.”

When it became certain, about eighteen months ago, that the Chancellor’s Office would support the development of campus-based equity plans consistent with the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for faculty, I identified four initial goals for the first stage of our plan.

First, our plan would focus on both faculty and staff.

Second, both in scale and scope, our efforts would be second to no other campus in the CSU.

Third, our efforts would utilize every tool that is available in the various CBAs to address workforce equity and compensation issues.

And, fourth, specifically for faculty, our plan would improve the comparative salary standing for our tenured and tenure-track faculty in all ranks vis-à-vis the other CSU campuses.

From data we have received from the Chancellor’s Office, an analysis of campus plans done by the CFA, and individual campus reports of which we are aware, it appears that we have met these initial goals. This achievement is owed to the hard work and wise counsel of many folks, including Charley Turner and Jason Conwell of the CFA, staff in the provost’s office and Human Resources, several faculty and staff who offered their views on the development of our plan, and the college deans. I am extremely grateful to all of them.

With regard to funding for faculty, according to a July 2015 report from the Chancellor’s Office to the Board of Trustees, we have been told that the total amount of campus-based funding from all 23 campuses is about $14 million. That’s an average of about $600,000 per campus. Our campus-based equity plan commitment for 2014–2015 (because our plan was retroactive to October 1, 2014) is over $1.4 million in salary and benefits. This is more than 10 percent of the CSU total and more than twice the campus averages.

Two hundred and thirty seven tenured and tenure-track faculty—or 54.7 percent of all tenured and tenure-track instructional faculty and eligible librarians, coaches, and counselors on our campus—received a campus-based equity adjustment. In addition, 36 lecturers received a campus-based equity adjustment, something which most CSU campuses have so far declined to do. And in accordance with the CBA provision, 236 lecturers were re-classified from the minimum “L” level to either “A” or “B.” In sum, the total percentage of all lecturers in 2014–2015 who received either an equity adjustment or a re-classification was 49.7 percent.

We are very pleased that our campus CFA leadership has described our program as “well thought-out“ and “a good first step in the right direction.” And, just as surely, they stated that we have work to do, including raising the minimum salary thresholds for all ranks, which we established this year, and looking at other examples of salary inversion and compression to mitigate.

I have no doubt that, when we eventually get an update on faculty salaries by campus and rank from the Chancellor’s Office, it will reveal that these actions and other elements of our plan have not only set the pace for such matters in the system, but enabled us to improve significantly our comparative standing with the rest of the CSU. We will have moved into the company of much larger campuses in significantly higher cost of living areas. This is what putting more money—more permanent money—into our plan than anyone else will accomplish.  

With regards to staff, it is important, first of all, to recognize that different contracts provide different tools for addressing equity and other compensation issues. The faculty collective bargaining agreement, for example, specifically includes a provision for the establishment of formal campus-based equity plans in order to address matters of inversion and compression. Such plans, though, are not mandatory. And there are still several CSU campuses which have not yet announced or implemented their plans.

None of the staff collective bargaining agreements contain a provision for a campus-based equity plan along the lines of the faculty CBA. Rather, the staff CBAs permit in-range progressions (IRPs), range elevations, and position re-classifications in order to address inequities and effect compensation gains. And, conversely, these are actions not provided for in the faculty CBA.

Effective July 1, we began to implement a campus-based equity program for staff based on IRP criteria consistent with each staff employee unit. One hundred and four staff employees have received by now an equity adjustment at a cost to the campus of about $170,000 (salaries and benefits).

This program is intended to supplement IRPs that have previously been made. Since January 2008, the campus has granted 233 IRPs at a cost of $586,462. Add benefit costs and the total in campus-based funding to support these decisions is well over $800,000. In 2014 alone, 68.1 percent of the IRPs reviewed were approved for a total compensation increase to staff employees of $104,907. In the same year, 87.1 percent of the requested re-classifications were approved for an additional award of $126,396.

But this is not half the story. In fact, far from it.

Because staff are not locked into promotion and tenure markers and service cycles as faculty are, such actions as IRPs, salary range elevations, and position re-classifications can occur frequently in a staff member’s career. Our university has acknowledged that, even during the most difficult budget years for the CSU. From January 2008 to September 2015, through the deepest recession in our nation’s history since the Great Depression, furloughs, hiring freezes, and six straight years of no general salary increases in the CSU for staff, this campus utilized the tools available in the staff CBAs and provided more than $2 million from campus-based funds to support compensation (salary and benefits) improvements for staff.  Five hundred seventy-four staff received an IRP, a salary range elevation, or a position re-classification during this period. Some received more than one compensation increase through these mechanisms.  

Moreover, not one staff member, tenure/tenure track faculty member, or lecturer with a three or one-year contract suffered a layoff during these years.

As past is prologue, it is well to have the facts straight in order to understand what the University has done and what it is committed to continue to do in the areas of equity and compensation for our faculty and staff. For, as I have often stated, our efforts along these lines will be multi-year in their development, far-reaching in their design, and long-term in their commitment.

It has been my goal to develop plans that are not only comprehensive, progressive, and responsive, but also well-intended, realistic, and aspirational. Plans that will serve the campus well for years to come and provide a platform for further refinement by the University’s next president. This, in fact, is a critical fifth goal with those identified at the beginning of this column.

Paul J. Zingg
President

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