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Staff Air Concerns Over Salaries, Bonuses and Aging Infrastructure in Chat with Chancellor

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted November 3, 1999

Chancellor Berdahl is vitally concerned with recognizing staff for their contributions but fears the campus may be failing to get this message across, he said at his annual chat with staff Oct. 25.

"Staff are major stakeholders in the future of the university," said Berdahl at the noon-time gathering in Sibley Auditorium. "But I'm not sure if we are doing our best to make you feel part of the organization."

As an example, Berdahl cited a memo sent to deans and directors in August on the need for faculty to treat staff with respect and civility. Despite the memo, however, Berdahl has heard from several staff who are concerned that this information has not reached faculty.

"We assumed this information was circulated beyond deans and directors, but that may not be the case," he said. "This is a reflection of some failure on our part."

Berdahl said he would be talking to deans and chairs to make sure this message moves through the organization.

The need to empower staff to suggest improvements to current bureaucratic structures was also emphasized by Berdahl.

"You are the experts on how things can and should work more effectively," he said. "By helping to identify problems and suggest solutions, we can work together to eliminate unnecessary procedures."

Among concerns voiced by staff at the meeting was the minimal merit and cost-of-living increases they receive as compared to the substantial pay increases UC Chancellors and other top administrators have gotten. Regents approved the raises as a way to achieve parity with comparable positions in the marketplace.

"Why has this logic not been applied to all other career staff positions at the university?" asked Mark Gotvald, a member of Berkeley Staff Assembly who read questions submitted by staff.

"We talk frequently about the need to improve staff salaries at our chancellor meetings," said Berdahl. "But for many, salaries are linked to union contracts and, unfortunately, these negotiations have been delayed."

Disbursement of Staff Achievement Awards was another issue raised. Many staff feel decisions on who receives cash bonuses are politically motivated and end up going to undeserving candidates. "This has been shown to be a morale buster," said one employee.

"I think this program has been successful on the whole, but we need to find ways to refine how the awards are distributed," said Berdahl. "This is a high priority for our new human resource director, Sandra Haire."

A campus plumber in the audience said he and his colleagues feel overwhelmed by the amount of work needed on campus and the lack of resources to get it done. "We can't serve our customers and there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight," he said.

Berdahl said the Office of the President has expanded the deferred maintenance program and dedicated additional resources, but admitted that UC is only one of many public agencies with aging facilities competing for state funding.

The Chancellor's Chat with Staff was sponsored by Berkeley Staff Assembly, an organization open to all staff employees.



November 3 - 9, 1999 (Volume 28, Number 13)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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