Posted at 10:55 a.m. Oct. 19, 2015

Employees speak up, make case for better wages

Board of Trustees hears feedback on college's draft compensation policy

Laramie County Community College employees gave compelling insight on the college’s compensation policy during the Board of Trustees meeting held on Oct.7.

Attracting and retaining world-class faculty was the main theme of the evening, during which Staff and Faculty Senate offered feedback on a draft compensation policy statement.

LCCC President Dr. Joe Schaffer and Human Resources Executive Director Tammy Maas were asked to draft the new compensation policy during the board meeting held Sept. 9.

Maas said the college wants to be an “employer of choice” and attract employees with competitive wages and salaries, unsurpassed benefits and compelling and meaningful work.

“We have world-class faculty,” said Faculty Senate President Leah Noonan, “but we don’t see enough effort to keep us.”
Noonan mentioned consistent “handpicking” of the same faculty to run committees, and asked, “How do others shine if they don’t have the opportunity to serve?”

The Faculty Senate president asked the board to consider why an average high school teacher with a bachelor’s degree in the region makes more money than an LCCC instructor who holds a master’s degree.

In some cases, a byproduct of faculty dissatisfaction is quitting, even after establishing a career here at the college.
Speaking on behalf of the faculty that have recently left the college, Noonan said they felt undervalued.

“You’re losing your experienced faculty at an alarming rate,” Noonan said, a statement that correlates with a comment made by an unknown member of Faculty Senate in their written report on compensation.

“Certainly, we lost some due to retirement,” the employee states, “However, many are leaving due to stress from overwork, burial in paperwork, and most importantly, the overwhelming feeling that the administration does not value their experience and contribution.”
In short, “We’d like to be appreciated,” as Noonan said.

The board was quick to realize that developing and bolstering this world-class work ethic would take higher-paid salaries among other incentives.

It was agreed that compensation should be at the top 25 percent of the market, but how to keep world-class compensation sustainable remains in question.

Staff Senate President Candy Ferrall questioned the board as to what processes are in place to retain “these skilled and committed employees.”

Ferrall said that not everyone is being evaluated on performance and suggested a compensation policy that values and rewards longevity, performance and educational advancement.

Ferrall concluded that Staff Senate wants to see a broader market analysis “to ensure LCCC can compete with local, regional and national employees.”

In Staff Senate’s recommendations to the board, a report outlined the determination process of the new compensation policy, including that it “needs to be transparent to employees and readily accessible … to reflect the need for ongoing, competitive compensation, supported by objective analyses, for the future of LCCC.”

The state of the college’s adjuncts was also mentioned as a group who have “no equity and suddenly had hours cut to 15 a year during which they can teach.”

The Laramie County Community College Education Association had a part in the conversation as well.

In LCCCEA’s feeback, one member said they find the policy statements “so vague that any procedure satisfies (the board),” and another member stated “the cost of replacing employees should be considered into the equation.”

However, in most comments, members shared the opinion that faculty is underpaid.

LCCCEA President Meghan Kelly reiterated Ferrall’s comment by saying she wants LCCC to “show that it values its employees.”

Trustee Brenda Lyttle requested the policy’s vague language be changed to encourage the college to “open up to new ideas.”

Trustee Bradly Barker said that other forms of compensation are important to employees with commitments outside of the academic arena, such as being able to take time off work to attend a child’s play at school and “not feel guilty about leaving work.”

Instructor of accounting and business Jeri Griego provided a different perspective on the discussion, she said she asked her students’ opinions on the subject in class one day.

“Work-life balance is changing into work-life integration,” said Griego, relating to the common practice of instructors taking work home that they could not complete otherwise.

Some of her students agreed that “the flexibility to maintain a life that fully supports the work-life integration” is important in being able to take care of non-work priorities.

Lyttle requested additional information from the administration after responding to a comment Schaffer made: “If you stress one thing, it could affect another.”

In regard to the policy reflecting compensation based on longevity as a deciding factor, Schaffer said it is hard to figure out policy statements that include the term.

“How would that affect the other, as well as other factors with the new compensation policy?” Lyttle asked. “What would be different?”

Mosher then proposed that Schaffer and Maas draft a policy by Nov. 18; Schaffer replied by saying he could have one ready by the next board meeting on Oct. 18.

In other news:

This provision contains amnesty details to protect a student in certain emergency situations in relation to drugs or alcohol.