Classified employees get slight raise, but not for entire year

9:10:07 AM CDT - Thursday, May 22, 2003

By Julie Rausch

The Legislature has approved a 1.5 cost-of-living increase, it was announced at WSU's Classified Senate meeting May 14. Due to an error at the state level in calculating total dollars needed to cover the entire state payroll, however, classified employees will not see their raises until the fourth pay period in the 2004 fiscal year, which will be Aug. 15.

"Apparently some agencies were not originally calculated in the total dollars needed, but it was too late to increase the amount," said Ellen Abbey, Classified Senate president, "so, we will be shorted three payments." 

President Beggs had wanted to cover the other three pay periods for classified employees but he learned that, by law, he could not make any additional payments to classified employees due to state civil service laws. However, the Board of Regents has approved funding so that faculty and unclassified professional staff will be paid for the three periods unfunded by the state.

The reclassification freeze has been lifted and about 30 requests that had been previously approved pending funding are now moving through the system and will be effective June 8, said Abbey. Additional requests will be considered for reclassification in December, provided funding is still available, Abbey said.

It also was announced at the senate meeting that the longevity bonus has been approved and will be funded 100 percent through the university. The longevity bonus starts on an employee's 10-year anniversary. Employees initially receive $400, and then $40 for every year after that. It caps at 25 years.

Senate representatives continue to encourage all classified employees to contact legislators as to the plight of state salaries. Only a few are active in taking the time to address issues of concern to state representatives, commented some classified senate representatives. Senate officers and a senate legislative committee are researching alternate employment issues by visiting with counterparts at other regents universities.

The University of Kansas has already proposed a plan to consider an alternate to civil service employment and plans to make changes to that proposal pending input from classified employees after the plan failed to get a majority vote in early May. The vote was 545 for and 545 against seeking a change from civil service to an alternate system.

The committee is going to see whether classified employees in other states have dumped civil service status for alternate employment systems and whether it was felt to be an improvement or not. Senate leaders vowed that they are going to be heavily and actively involved in the continuing process to represent classified constituents for better pay and to explore a different employment system.

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