Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free school lunches and empty refrigerators: CSU staff struggle under pay gap

CSUEU officers addressed the CSU Board of Trustees' Committee on Collective Bargaining yesterday, hammering home the point that staff salaries have languished under years of neglect, and employees are struggling as a result.

Pat Gantt, President, updated the Trustees on negotiations: the CSU and CSUEU are at impasse, and CSU wants to reduce what they originally offered by a full 1%. We represent 16,000 employees in over 250 classifications. The majority of our bargaining unit members are at the low end of the salary range, and this offer basically gutted our salary increases. The CSU wants to reduce our cost of living, while at the same time increasing executive compensation? That stinks. Only 6% of the employees we represent received an In-Range Progression in the last two fiscal cycles. Movement through the salary ranges is a key component, and is important to us. It should be important to the CSU.

Dennis Dillon, Vice President for Representation, seconded Pat Gantt's remarks, and told the Trustees that one of our biggest issues is that the salary ranges themselves are not that far from competitive, but the problem is where in those ranges the employees' actual salaries fall. Without movement through the salary ranges, employees are underpaid. He also protested the slow pace of negotiations for Unit 13, whose employees haven't received a raise since 2005.

Lynn Barba, BUC 2 Vice Chair, stated that it is imperative that the General Salary Increase be maximized as much as possible. The CSU's current approach is not going to work. Any campus can do In-Range Progressions at any time. It's time to utilize the In-Range Progressions because the compensation pool isn't going to be able to fix this problem any time soon.

Sharon Cunningham, BUC 5 Chair, told the Trustees this situation "is just ridiculous." Employees need help, and if the Trustees look at how slowly we are moving through the salary ranges, they'll understand why we're here.

Jennifer O'Neal Watts, BUC 7 Vice Chair, told the Trustees, "I'm am 11-year employee at my campus, and my children qualify for a free lunch at school."

Mary Granger, Chapter 314 President, read the Trustees an impassioned letter from a coworker, telling the Trustees we're not keeping up with the market, and the CSU community consists of more than the Presidents and the executives at the Chancellor's Office. We're losing purchasing ability. Staff are leaving because they can do better in the private sector. People are beginning to lose faith in what we call Higher Education.

Rich McGee, BUC 9 Chair, described a disabled CSU employee who attended the president's evening convocation reception with her husband because the free food was the only way they could afford to eat dinner that night. They have only a small amount of food to last until the next paycheck.

Pat Gantt and Dennis Dillon will be addressing the full Board of Trustees today.

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