Monday, June 21, 2010

UA Employees Take Another Hit

Following on the news that University of Arkansas employees will get no merit raises or service awards this year, the UA Administration has also announced that workers will have to pay more for health care and dental care benefits. Health insurance costs to workers and their families will go up by 5% and dental insurance costs will be increased by 3%.

The increases in the amount that employees must pay for health and dental insurance means that workers will have to choose between giving up benefits or taking home smaller paychecks for their families. Classified employees have had their wages frozen for next year, and faculty will not get merit raises for the second straight year.

Chancellor David Gearhart will get an additional $225,000 annually in deferred compensation from "private" funds through the UA Foundation. There was no consideration of deferred compensation for workers who have had their salary frozen and health insurance rates increased.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

UA Workers Salaries Frozen

On Friday, June 18, UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart sent University workers an email stating that he just learned on Thursday, June 17, “that the Governor’s freeze on state raises did, in fact, apply to higher education. This information has caught the entire higher education community by surprise.”

How that could have been a surprise instead of a delayed announcement is puzzling. Last month, the Director of the state Department of Finance and Administration sent a memorandum to all “Presidents/Chancellors of State Supported Institutions of Higher Education” specifically stating, that “annual career service recognition payments and classified and unclassified employee merit increases will be suspended for 2011.”

This is especially burdensome for low wage workers who already struggle. It also means that faculty will get no merit increases for the second consecutive year, because Gearhart recommended and the Board of Trustees voted to give no faculty raises last year. Of course, all employees will still be evaluated annually, even if these reviews are financially meaningless for the workers.

The UA Board of Trustees on May 21st voted to raise Chancellor Gearhart’s salary from $282,000 to $289,000 and voted to throw in an additional $225,000 annual deferred compensation payment from the UA Foundation. We’re not sure how the Board of Trustees can make expenditures of that magnitude from a “private” foundation, but they did.

Will Chancellor Gearhart now decline his $232,000 annual raise for next year, or is this salary freeze just for the workers? We will wait for his next empathetic email before guessing.