Salary disparity at USFmust be addressed

No one can deny that money is tight at USF, but there is no reason why more than half of all full-time workers at USF are making below some living wages.

A study by Bill McClelland, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union, showed that the living wage for a family of two – one parent and one child – in the Tampa Bay area is $31,008.

Yet, only about 44 percent of full-time workers make at least that much, which means many probably have trouble affording the basic necessities of life, especially if they have more than one family member to support.

One groundskeeper, who spoke to The Oracle wishing to remain anonymous, has worked at USF for seven years and only makes $21,000 a year. With the help of a spouse, the groundskeeper must support a family of five, while earning far below the living wage.

Obviously, the University should be paying workers more money, and it can no longer continue to hide behind the age-old excuse of budget cuts.

John Stephen Henderson, classification and compensation manager in USF’s Division of Human Resources, said the University doesn’t have the “cash flow” to give raises because of budget cuts and a lack of state funding.

USF needs to stop making excuses and take real steps to raise the salaries of those in need.

Some administrators are making six figures a year, with bonuses built into their contracts. That does not represent an efficient distribution of funds. Surely, they would not mind a small cut in their comfortable salaries to address a serious injustice at their university.

The fact that employees’ pay will now be affected by performance evaluations won’t help, either. The AFSCME union, which represents USF staff members, is opposing the evaluations.

On the surface, it may seem like a good idea: those who do better work deserve larger bonuses and better pay.

“There’s a difference in contribution,” Sandy Lovins, associate vice president for Human Resources, said to The Oracle in January, “and we feel that difference should be publicly recognized, and that is typical in a pay-for-performance system.”

But many workers are not being recognized for their tremendous contributions to the day-to-day upkeep of USF. The same standardized form used to evaluate an administrator, which accounts for things like the ability to give formal written and oral presentations, cannot be used to evaluate a custodian.

Perhaps that’s why another study by the AFSCME union found that 79 percent of administrators received the highest rating on their evaluations, while no custodial worker, groundskeeper, cashier or maintenance and repair workers were awarded that rating.

Employee salaries need to be raised, and USF needs to start doing something about it and stop complaining about budget constraints.