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University of California: Deciding salaries and raises [Blowback]

September 1, 2011 |  4:06 pm

Mark Yudof

Carol Crabill, a union-represented staff member in the mathematics department at UC Davis, responds to Larry Gordon's Aug. 18 article, "University of California announces raises for non-union workers," to provide her perspective on how raises are allotted on UC campuses. If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed, here are our FAQs and submission policy

Because the University of California is a public institution, there are some factors that need to be considered when reviewing UC's plan to raise the salaries of non-union staff who are paid under $200,000, as well as those of the faculty. This is especially true in the current economic climate.

It is true that the UC Academic Senate Faculty as a group has not had raises since October 2007, and a case can be made that their salaries should be increased to keep up with similar institutions.

But faculty salaries are consistently misrepresented in news articles and by UC's Office of the President. Faculty have received merit increases and/or promotions every two to four years during this time period, depending on their rank on the academic ladder and based on whether their reviews were successful. Most every faculty member who goes through these reviews -- and most do on schedule -- is successful.

Only those faculty who are above scale -- above the salary ladder, and who are few and far between --  must wait four years between merit reviews.

Newer faculty, assistant professors and the lower three ranks of associate professor are required to go through the merit cycle every two years. Some faculty members choose to accelerate their merit/promotion cycles, and quite a number are successful at it.

So faculty members have continued to receive increases and many have received significant raises during the last four years. In addition, many faculty have retention and/or off-scale salaries, not reflected in the salary scales, which they have continued to receive. And those who have grants can receive so-called summer salary.

Likewise, there have continued to be ways to increase the salaries of non-union employees during this time. Specifically, "equity" raises have been used most consistently. Deans and chancellors seem to be able to find ways to increase the salaries of their staff and department managers.

Many union-represented staff make far less than $80,000 and many far less than $50,000, especially the service and clerical staff. The clerical staff, represented by CUE and now Teamsters, hasn't had a contract in several years, and it is a good bet that there will be no contract or raises for clerical employees until there are further layoffs.

These are hard times. Union-represented staff want to do their share to help keep costs low, but it is unfair to ask them to do so while consistently increasing the salaries of faculty and higher-paid staff.

It is the UC students and the lower-paid staff who will bear the burden of the budget cuts. At UC, as is the case in corporate America, the richer get richer and the poorer can't keep up because they are thrown crumbs in comparison.

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--Carol Crabill

Photo: "Fairness dictates that we take this step," said University of California President Mark Yudof about the raises for non-union employees. Credit: Dave Getzschman / For The Times

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