Faculty calls for better staff wages

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs

29 NOV 2000 | A significant number of faculty - 510 professors from 67 departments - have signed and delivered a petition to Chancellor Berdahl urging him to continue efforts to raise staff salaries across the board.

Citing a critical need to offer competitive wages and stave off the growing number of staff vacancies, eight faculty members representing petition-signers met with the chancellor on Nov. 20 to discuss staff complaints of unrealistic workloads and worsening morale.

"I appreciate the effort demonstrated by the faculty to keep this issue in the forefront of our budgetary priorities for the coming fiscal year," Berdahl said. "The show of support from so many faculty will help us to move forward with a budget augmentation request appearing in the proposed fiscal year 2001-2002 budget."

Staff positions have been increasingly difficult to fill in recent years due to below-market wages and the high cost of living in the Bay Area. That "disturbing and longstanding wage gap" has created a "crisis situation," the faculty petition points out. As an example, the petition cites University of California statistics showing that clerical workers on average are paid 21 percent below the market rate for the work they do.

The disparity has resulted in "overwork, a loss of institutional memory and serious deterioration of workplace morale," the petition states.

Currently there are 700 vacant staff positions on campus.

"Many faculty notice the effects of this shortage on staff in our departments," said Barrie Thorne, a professor of sociology and women's studies, and one of eight faculty members responsible for distributing the petition. "They are overworked, and they feel under appreciated. The signed petitions, which we have also sent to UC President Richard Atkinson and the regents, are a gesture of our support for the invisible workers who keep this university going."

Debra Harrington, labor relations specialist, said the proposed fiscal year 2001-2002 budget will address this issue for the first time at the systemwide level. A budget augmentation request for staff wage adjustments over time parallels a general ladder-ranked faculty parity request that was written into the budget several years ago.

"We are competing for state dollars, which are scarce, and non-state funds from federal contracts and research grants to pay for incremental increases for staff over time," Harrington said. "The faculty who signed this petition are giving the chancellor added support to continue in the direction he has been headed for the last two years."



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