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LAG proposes changes to new classified compensation plan

By Dan Heuchert

The Labor Action Group, an independent advocacy organization claiming to represent the University's classified employees, presented the state's top human resources official with four proposals to modify the state's new classified compensation plan, which is to be implemented beginning Sept. 25.

The proposals were presented to Sarah Redding Wilson, director of the state's Department of Human Resource Management, at LAG's Aug. 17 meeting in Newcomb Hall. She was accompanied by state Del. Mitchell Van Yahres (D-Charlottesville).

LAG called for:

Additional state funding to implement the new compensation plan's bonuses, in-band adjustment payouts (additional raises given to compensate for increased skills or correct for market conditions) and other pay increases. According to U.Va. Human Resources, no new funds were allocated for such increases, but existing funds held in reserve for reallocations under the former plan will be sufficient. LAG disagreed. "Pay-for-performance, broadband plans cannot work without a substantial overall funding increase," LAG's proposal charged. "Managers who offer larger-than-average wage enhancements under this plan will merely shift money from one employee to the other." Associate English professor Susan Fraimen, a LAG member, added that she feared money would be shifted from lower-income employees to those in technical fields, where labor is in short supply.

An $8-per-hour minimum "living wage" for all employees.

The establishment of an independent peer-advocacy group for classified staff to "monitor the implementation of the new compensation plan, make substantive recommendations and hold managers accountable for a fair and equitable administration of the plan." LAG members claim the plan is too management-driven, and charged that it will reward personality over performance.

A "vigorous and responsive" grievance procedure, to include an advocate of the grieving employee's choice at all stages of the process. If that advocate is also an employee, he or she should be given "adequate release time" from his or her job. The advocate is necessary, LAG's proposal states, "because of the unprecedented flexibility and authority granted managers under this plan, and because of the existing level of intimidation and retaliation that now makes the existing grievance procedure a dead letter."

Neither Wilson nor Van Yahres responded directly to the proposals, explaining that they attended merely to listen to employee concerns.



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