In order to comply with the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget’s mandate that UW-Madison create an entirely new Human Resources system, the Office of Human Resources has recently released their latest draft of recommendations to be implemented in July 2013 on our campus. Many of the specific details of the plan have yet to be determined, effectively rendering the HRDP recommendations a skeleton draft that will frame later decisions and policies. The following is a series of changes that identify and seek to ameliorate key elements of the HR Design plan that will exacerbate workplace inequality and subjective influences on pay, vacation time, and transfer decisions at UW-Madison.
In the spirit of substantive engagement and negotiation, we would like to see these changes incorporated into the body of the plan to be submitted to the Board of Regents on Dec. 6 and the Joint Committee on Employee Relations in the spring. Should our recommendations not be included directly into the plan, we would like for them to be submitted as an appendix to that document and presented with it to all future decision making bodies.
Broadly speaking, our requests address two distinct levels of concern we have with the HRDP: the first addresses very specific, line item changes we would like to see made in the interest of maintaining equitable, fair working conditions for all campus employees, from student hourlies to kitchen staff to TAs and to faculty. The other set of comments reflect a deeper and more systemic concern over the HRDP’s prioritization of values that do not do enough to promote pay equity, and that potentially threaten it by allowing “performance” to take precedence. In regards to this latter concern, it is largely what has not been said in the recommendations that we find disconcerting. Given this historic opportunity, we would like to see UW-Madison take a proactive stance on defending our public institution’s defining principles to improve the quality of life for all, rather than prioritizing market competition for the betterment of a few.
- The plan should be revised to include a Memoranda of Understanding that outlines a “meet-and-confer” process in the absence of collective bargaining. The current plan fails to clarify the status of previously existing grievance procedures as outlined in labor contracts and the future of employer and labor union relations on campus.1
- Maintain seniority rights for decisions on transfer, vacation, and lay-offs that pertain to classified staff and extend them to faculty and academic staff. Currently, seniority is the only unbiased, objective criteria for such decisions and until other such criteria are demonstrated it should remain intact.
- Strike any and all language that allows for compensation on the basis of going “above and beyond” one’s job expectations. Such language poses a high risk of encouraging and rewarding overwork in a manner that would be detrimental to many employees.
- Guarantee a final hearing before an impartial hearing officer in dismissal cases.
- The implementation of “performance” as a main criteria by which to evaluate employees should be stricken. “Performance based pay” should not be applied to employees other than faculty, should they approve of it, as it will only further exaggerate the caste system that the HRDP is meant to ameliorate.
- Clearly affirm cost-of-living and similar equity based criteria as the basis that must be met before other compensation considerations.2
- Clearly prioritize internal equity and cost-of-living before factoring in market forces, rather than presenting internal equity, external market factors, and cost-of-living as variables that can be balanced and maintained equally at all times.
- Present adequate, peer-reviewed research and data on the recommendations in the HRDP document, including the increased emphasis on performance for compensation evaluations, the introduction of a market based assessment, and the creation of competencies to be piloted in OHR.
- Account for the reliance on private and semi-private institutions as benchmarks for the project. Universities like Stanford, MIT, UVA, the University of Michigan, and UT-Austin all have substantially higher administrative costs that are offset by substantially higher tuition charged to students and could be suggestive of similar patterns to follow here at UW.
- Provide a concrete outline and project costs for the independent consultant that will handle retitling and market research. Account for how the university will finance that venture and what role shared governance bodies and labor organizations will play in approving the recommendations.
1 While the current recommendations recognize the importance of “input” by campus governance groups, they completely omit any discussion of the university administration’s relationship to labor unions.
2 The current recommendations suggest that cost-of-living is one factor among others that should be used in compensation decisions. As has been indicated in that document, UW-Madison has fallen behind in paying some employees cost-of-living wages, and we should take precautions in this new plan to ensure that this does not happen again.
Approved October 16, 2012 by TAA Executive Board