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Chancellor column: UWSP task force to examine classified staff salaries

11:09 AM, Jun. 21, 2013  |  Comments
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While some wind down for the summer, we are gearing up to examine an issue critical to the long-term viability on our campus: Ensuring that all University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point staff receive a living wage.

I have convened a Living Wage Task Force to examine classified staff salaries and prepare a report by summer's end. Public sector salaries received much attention, in Stevens Point and around the state, this winter. When Gannett Wisconsin Media published salaries of UW and other public employees earlier this year, those earning less than $25,000 were not listed. Some likely were relieved by that, while others felt they were somehow less significant because they receive lower salaries.

UW System schools have two general categories of employment, classified and unclassified. Classified staff (state of Wisconsin civil service) includes office support, financial, library assistant, custodial, maintenance, grounds, building trades, technical, security, medical technology, and professional and paraprofessional positions, including limited-term employees. Unclassified staff consists of faculty and academic staff positions requiring advanced degrees in specialized fields.

Everyone employed by UWSP contributes to its success and to the success of our students. Faculty and staff are the heart and soul of the university system. In recent years, employees have coped with salary freezes, mandated unpaid furloughs and increases in the cost of benefits. They remain dedicated to providing students the highest quality education for a fair and reasonable cost.

What is a living wage in Stevens Point? How do salaries at UWSP compare to other UW System universities and to other public sector employment in central Wisconsin? If salaries need adjusting, how do we ensure internal equity?

I don't know these answers, but I'm committed to finding out.

The Living Wage Task Force has been asked to do three things:

? Recommend how we will define a living wage at UWSP.

? Analyze current salaries. This includes gathering salary data from central Wisconsin and beyond.

? Develop cost estimates to adjust salaries as needed to move staff into living wages.

The task force includes several classified staff members, human resources, a supervisor and a faculty labor economist. We appreciate the time and attention these individuals are devoting during the next few months. We will share their findings and our plans to move this initiative forward.

We remain hopeful Gov. Scott Walker will find a way to provide the UW System with the flexibility we need to manage our personnel and resources effectively.

Recruiting and retaining the best faculty and staff and paying a living wage to all of our employees - this is the foundation to provide the best education possible for the people of our state.

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