Faculty Senate
Vol. 38, No. 3
September 25 2003


 

I.          Roll Call.

 

Present:  Beck, Bigel, Brooks, Dixon, Gendreau, Gibson, Gongaware, Heim, Hoar, Kraemer, Maher, Majak, B. Riley, D. Riley, Shanks, Shillinger, Sullivan, Taylor, Vandenberg-Daves, Wilson, Wingate.

 

Excused:  Kernozek, Poulton, Ragan.

 

II.          Approval of Minutes.

The minutes of the 9-11-03 meeting were approved as distributed.

 

III.         Reports.

 

A.  Chair Hoar announced that Dr. Robert Richardson, 1996 Nobel Laureate in physics, will speak at 5:00 p.m. today in Valhalla.

 

The three groups (Positioning Task Force, Program Array Review, and the General Education Committee) continue to meet to come up with recommendations.  It is likely that a report will be forthcoming from the Positioning Task Force perhaps as early as the next senate meeting.  The General Education Committee is putting together a draft of possible new course review material.

 

B.  Chancellor Hastad is in Madison today.

 

C.  No formal report from the Provost/Vice-Chancellor.

 

D.  Chief Financial Officer, Ron Lostetter reported that the Division of State Facilities has selected a consultant to work with exterior campus master plan, which will guide exterior development over the next 15 yrs or so.

 

E.  No report from the Faculty Representative.

 

F.  Student Association President, Luke Naegele thanked the senate for the opportunity to review the academic initiatives and differential tuition program, which will report on the following four areas: academic advising, international education, diversity, and undergraduate research.  The goal was to hire people for project by next semester however they are not going to make that date.  They want to work with faculty on diversity and academic advising.  Last spring the faculty senate put together an ad hoc committee to work with students on advising.  Naegele anticipates that recommendations will be formulated within a month.

 

IV.        Pay Plan Alternatives for Fiscal Years 03-05.

Bob Carney, accompanied by Scott Rohde, presented a detailed explanation of UW System’s proposed pay plan, responding to questions and providing clarification where appropriate.

 

Ron Lostetter reviewed a series of slides depicting faculty and academic staff pay plan alternatives with respect to premiums for health insurance.  Under the new tier system, the State proposes a payment of $25/month for single coverage and $62.50/month for family coverage.  Lostetter reviewed the individual impacts of pay plan alternatives whereby, UW-System proposes providing an additional pay raise for unclassified faculty and academic staff for the purpose of funding the employee contribution for health care premiums.

 

Both Carney and Rohde, UW-La Crosse representatives to the Compensation Advisory Committee, worked with Ron Lostetter, Marcia Naber and Bob Hoar to present the alternative plan to the campus community at three information sessions.  The following excerpt from a letter to President Lyall from Bob Carney, represents Scott’s and his best estimate of the sentiment of the unclassified employees at UWL.

 

  1. There was general agreement that the pay plan would be financially valuable to one degree or another to all of the unclassified employees.

 

  1. There was some understanding of the fact that as long as the resulting monthly premium contributions were not out of line with our peer institutions, the UW System would be more competitive in hiring if the salaries could be increased.  

 

  1. Conversely, there was fairly universal agreement that there were so many unknowns associated with tying our self-funded pay increase to the health insurance tier system, that the risks of adopting this plan were very high.  These risks became known as the risk of unintended consequences.  In general, employees are now sharing in the state’s present and future cost of healthcare.  This is a scary proposition in itself given the projections for continuing double digit increases in the cost of healthcare.  The idea then of further tying the self-funding of our pay plan to our share of these growing costs seems extraordinarily risky.  The likely return is not viewed as commensurate with the risk we are being asked to take.

 

  1.  The following represents a brief list of the concerns most often mentioned:

 

    • The whole arrangement for calculating the tier assignments has not been presented to the public. In addition, our HMO representatives themselves remain uncomfortable with the present and future implementation of this plan.  The tier arrangement, which can only be most described as politically and financially fluid, seems a very inappropriate foundation for calculating the present and future cost of our pay increase.  What happens to the pay plan funding costs if the underlying contribution mandated by the state increases?  Is there any reason to assume it won’t increase as the cost of healthcare continues to climb?
    • If an employee’s HMO were to be reassigned next year to Tier II and the employee were to be willing to pay the state mandated additional monthly premium to stay with their existing medical facility and staff, why should they have to pay $240 per month for that right instead of $182.50 ($125 state mandated plus $57.50 for the pay plan funding)?
    • What publicly given assurance do we have from the Governor and the legislative leadership that our effort will be viewed as a generous sacrifice to ensure UW System remains able to pay and retain our employees and to remain marginally competitive in the national/international marketplace for faculty and academic staff?  Given the recent press we have been getting, isn't it more likely this effort will be thought of an an "elitist" attempt by those academics to get more for themselves?  What are the real, long-term state governmental consequences if this plan is put forward?
    • Six million dollars of the funding for this plan is based on the hope that the actual cost to UW System for the employee premium contribution will be less than the $25 and $62.50 suggested.   If the savings are not realized, will the pay increase be reduced?  Would those presently supporting the pay plan support the plan if it turned out that the risks were being taken for an even smaller return?
    • Twenty four million dollars of the funding for this plan is based on the hope that the state or UW System will be able to transfer $24,000,000 into our base budgets beginning in 2005.  Is this realistic and at what cost elsewhere in our GPR budgets. 

  

  1. In the end, no one spoke in favor of the plan at any of the informational sessions or during informal discussions in the halls.  No one communicated any support in any of the e-mails we received.  In fact, a number of those e-mails began with the same initial comment, “Given my salary and few years remaining until retirement, the UW System plan would probably be more beneficial for me; nonetheless, I believe it may turn out to be very devastating to the long-term welfare of our institution and employees.  Therefore, I oppose the plan and recommend that we support the state plan.”  Based on the sampling described above, it is reasonable to conclude that the unclassified employees of UWL oppose the self-funded pay plan proposal.

 

Considerable discussion ensued.  Concerns and comments include:

 

  • We lose our competitive edge with respect to recruitment.
  • Risky to set the precedent of using faculty contributions to fund pay plans.
  • Use of one-time funds is troubling.
  • Movement of health care providers from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is worrisome.
  • Could be political fall-out with the public and public relations with elected officials.

 

M/S/P  while the UW-La Crosse Faculty Senate appreciates UW-System’s attempt to provide an additional pay raise for unclassified faculty and academic staff, the UW-La Crosse Faculty Senate, after due consideration, rejects the Systems’ proposed pay plan.  The senate finds the financial uncertainties, political risks and potential for unfairness to be significant dangers which should be avoided.  (unanimous show of hands)

 

V.         Old Business.

 

VI.        New Business.

 

VII.       Adjournment.

The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

 

 

Submitted by

Eric R. Kraemer, Secretary