Top administrators decline one-time bonus

Some of the University’s top administrators, such as President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox, could have fattened their wallets a bit in recent weeks. Instead, they chose otherwise.

The money would have come in the form of a one-time, lump-sum bonus for several of the University’s staff members and administrators.

All executive administrators — including Genshaft and Wilcox — were offered the bonus, but they denied it, said Assistant Vice President of Human Resources Sandra Lovins.

USF spokeswoman Lara Wade said that administrators like Genshaft felt it would not be appropriate for them to receive the bonus.

“The cabinet members agreed unanimously to forgo the bonus payment,” Wade said. “They decided that in light of the ongoing budget crisis, it would be best for them not to accept the bonus.”

Personnel who received the bonus are considered “out-of-unit” employees. This type of worker includes managers, supervisors and administrators, said Michael Stephens, director of human resources.

The bonus was distributed to eligible employees Sept. 19. Employees who made an annual salary of $45,000 or less received a $2,000 bonus, Stephens said. Meanwhile, employees whose annual salary was greater than $45,000 received a bonus of $1,500.

Money from contracts and grants are expected to fund the bonuses, Stephens said.

However, many University employees, such as those considered “in-unit,” have not yet received their bonuses.

In-unit employees include maintenance staff, custodial staff, groundskeepers, workers and many professional employees, Stephens said. These employees have ratified an agreement that will pay out their bonuses.

In-unit employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, or union contract, with the governing body of USF, said William McClelland, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The collective bargaining agreement must be voted on and ratified by union members to put into effect all terms of the agreement, including the bonus.

The collective bargaining agreement was ratified by USF employees on Sept. 23, he said.

The Board of Trustees legally has 60 days to implement the bonus to all in-unit employees, “but we are encouraging them to try to move with more speed than that,” McClelland said.

In her statement about the agreement, President Genshaft wrote that she plans to distribute the bonus by Oct. 31.

“I have asked Human Resources to immediately begin the process for distributing the bonuses to all eligible staff,” she wrote.

McClelland, an employee and alumnus of USF, said employees have not had a salary increase for some time.

“They’re glad to get something,” McClelland said.  “But they’re very aware that it doesn’t really meet the salary needs of the staff.”

Stephens said that the University decided upon the bonus for retention purposes and because it was an “opportunity to do something for the employees.”

However, many employees would prefer that any kind of salary increase be a part of their permanent salaries, rather than a one-time bonus, because it affects their retirements, McClelland said.

“The people who are voting on (the collective bargaining agreement) are the least paid and in the most need of some salary relief,” McClelland said. “But this is the best deal we can achieve right now with the Board of Trustees.”

Employees are pleased to be getting some money at this time, McClelland said, but are disappointed because the bonus does not address a long-term aid plan.

“We’re going back to the bargaining table very shortly to try to see if we can do better and hopefully the economic times will be a little better as well so that we can address a comprehensive aid plan,” McClelland said.