Chancellor's Chat With Staff
Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl
Berkeley Staff Assembly
26 September 00

Thank you for giving me this opportunity today to answer your questions and address your concerns.

I would like to begin by telling you that I have read all of your questions before coming today. I have also been briefed on the many discussions that Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell and Assistant Vice Chancellor Sandy Haire have recently had with staff groups such as: The Management Council of Academic Business Officers (ABOG); Micronet (Technical staff); the Department Personnel Managers; the Human Resources Management Team; the BAS Executive Leadership Team; and the Chancellors Staff Advisory Committee.

I really do "get it." I very much understand how urgently we need to make changes.

I know that retention of quality staff is an issue; that recruitment of new talent is an issue; that work loads are not in many cases manageable any longer because of unfilled positions or new technology that must be learned. I truly agree that compensation is not in many cases adequate, and that the reason that many people come to work here, for a decent balance between work and the rest of life is often not a reason any more. And, I know that we have to do better at empowering people and rather than micro-managing them, we need to let those that know best, be free to make intelligent and informed decisions.

The University and I as its Chancellor owe you an apology for not having acted sooner. Many of these issues are not new, and we have not moved as quickly as we could have to improve your work environments.

I hope that today we can begin to build a new relationship between staff and administration. I don't stand here today with all the answers, but I do stand here with many of my Vice Chancellors to say that we are listening, and we intend to act now to make this campus a more fulfilling place to work.

I also want to say that Berkeley is not alone in dealing with many of the problems you see. I know that saying this does not ease the difficulty of your work life here, but it is a fact we must include in our discussions. The economy is driving up costs-housing is particularly problematic-and even private institutions are having problems recruiting and retaining good staff.

What this means for Cal more than ever, is that we must find new ways of bringing back the pleasure and pride people need to feel about working here.

On that note, I want to tell you about a few of the initiatives and improvements that will go into effect right away. Many of these initiatives are solutions that you have directly requested. After I am done, I would like to answer some of your questions.


At a Retreat that myself, the Vice Chancellors and Senior Managers held a few weeks ago, we focussed on the urgent work load problem on campus and on how to better empower staff. As a result of these discussions, I want to announce today an immediate response to some of your concerns.

To begin with, Executive Vice Chancellor Paul Gray and I are putting into place a plan to commit one million dollars to add employees and decrease work loads in the most critical areas. A great deal of further analysis is required, but, I am confident that we can complete this kind of workforce analysis - in fact ABOG has already offered to help - and that we will take action accordingly. I also invite your ideas, input and suggestions in this process. My e-mail address is

This million dollars may not be enough to solve all of the problems staff face on this campus, but these funds will give us the ability to take some urgent steps in the right direction.

Example of the kinds of initiatives we could immediately fund, include using a trained group of retirees to fill in vacant supervisory positions, and increasing staff internships in the AAII-AAIII categories to provide training opportunities in specialized skill areas required for those levels.

I also know that Berkeley Financial Systems has created an increased workload for many of you, and that this technology has not just solved, but has also created problems and stresses. I hope that your workload will decrease as your familiarity with the BFS increases. But, I also can see that we will need to modify and streamline some of the controls so that you are still able to make independent judgments and decisions.


It is very clear that staff salaries have fallen far behind what the market demands, and job reclassifications are cumbersome and bureaucratic. While our health, retirement, and life insurance benefits are better than most public or private sector employers, I know benefits don't buy groceries. Clearly, we need to create a job evaluation and compensation system that is more responsive to the labor market.

Today, I announce the formation of the Compensation Advisory Committee. This is a working group of faculty and staff that will make recommendations on how to restructure the entire campus compensation and job evaluation system. I have asked them to have recommendations to me no later than the end of the academic year.

This Committee is co-chaired by a staff and faculty member. Martha Fateman and Calvin Moore are both here today. I would ask that they stand, with any other members of the Committee here today and introduce themselves.

More information about the committee will be published in HR Links, which should be out within the next few days, and the Office of Human Resources will continue throughout the year to publish information about the committee's work, and changes that can be implemented quickly.


Job postings on campus are nearly up to 700. We are implementing immediately a contract with an Internet provider to allow us to post our offerings more quickly and to search for qualified applicants more pro-actively. This contract will be managed by Human Resources, but each department will use the recruitment website independently.

Effective immediately as well, we will give employees bonuses for referring applicants to campus. An employee will receive up to $500 up front for recommending someone who is hired, and then up to $500 more after the new employee completes the 6-month probation period. Private employers are offering this kind of incentive program, and we need to follow this example.

I also think we need to do make a greater effort to recruit our own graduates.

My hope is that with better recruitment opportunities, the campus will truly be able to truly attract the top candidates to Berkeley. Again, I invite your ideas and suggestion on how to improve recruitment opportunities on campus. (


We are losing some of our talented staff, and I know that this will continue to be a problem. We need to immediately address how to retain our employees.

Today, I would like to announce that we are removing the 15% cap on salary increases for reclassifications. I know this will give us more flexibility to keep our top performers appropriately rewarded.

We are also eliminating the cap on raises for lateral moves, so that current employees are encouraged to develop new skill sets in other campus positions, and external employees are not given more favorable consideration.

I understand the frustration this cap has created. It is counterproductive to have bureaucratic rules that force people to stay in a position one place on campus when they have better career growth opportunities in another. If we are to be an employer of choice, we need to allow people to work where they are most fulfilled. This is what is best for the University as a whole.

Finally, smaller initiatives to support a better quality of work-life are being considered as well: emergency parking passes so that if you have to come to work on a weekend there is a football game, you at least have a place to park. I am also very interested to see if we can subsidize transportation at a higher rate, for example, with BART tickets.

Finally, an initiative that affects both recruitment and retention, is the installation of a new software package to enhance our automation of workforce data and many of the HR forms that are now so problematic. This new Human Resources Management System is a web based system that will offer the ability to apply for UC jobs on line and will give departments the ability to put people on payroll on line, as well as many other conveniences that we don't have now.

CUE: Advocacy at Office of the President

I know that many of you are interested to know what I am doing to advance your case to the President. I want to make one thing very clear: I fully support raises. I know that our salary levels are below market, and that this is absolutely unfair.

In addition to supporting the University wide proposals for wage increases of over 11%, Berkeley has proposals, specific for the Berkeley campus, to extend pay ranges by an additional 10% in certain clerical titles where we are experiencing retention and recruitment difficulties. These extensions will help to retain many of our employees at the top of the range by providing additional salary growth opportunities.

I am as eager as anyone to see these negotiations conclude, and I believe the Berkeley campus is doing everything in its power to reach a settlement. But, as you know, in collective bargaining it takes both sides to reach resolution.


Many of you asked about how to be more supported in your work. I feel strongly that we need to give you the training you need to make the creative decisions that contribute to this organization. We need to rely on your expertise rather than stifle it. I also know that as you are allowed to develop your skills, you are happier and more fulfilled in your jobs.

We have invested a great deal in training on this campus - over $100,000 in new money for training is in this year's budget.

I know that training opportunities are essential, but that you also need time to take advantage of them - time you often do not have. One way to approach this would be to create a pool of temporary employees that could minimally cover for staff when they want to seek training.

The bottom line is that this is a learning organization and I am committed to promoting education and all its accompanying benefits.

Tidal Wave II

I actually don't like this term because it conjures up a natural disaster - and I think we should look at increased enrollment as an opportunity and not a natural disaster.

There is great concern all over campus about expanded enrollment, and the 4000 new students we must accommodate over the next ten years.

We do have two high level committees working on this with representatives from staff, faculty and the students.

I also want to make clear that the money we are given to address expanded enrollment will not just go to faculty and facilities. It will also go to implementing initiatives that address staff's increased workload.


Some of you have asked about whether I would be willing to meet with smaller groups of staff to discuss these issues. I do want to be clear that over the last year, I have had many of my own meetings with staff groups. When it comes to the Clerical staff, as you all know, I am prevented from speaking directly to employees engaged in collective bargaining. While this is frustrating to some of you, and to me, to do otherwise would constitute an unfair labor practice.

As I have stated a few times, I am willing to meet with groups of staff as issues come up. And, I absolutely invite your ideas and suggestions through my campus e-mail at:

Thank you, and now I can take some of your questions.


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