Southern Illinois University employees working at the Carbondale campus have expressed anger over pay increases for SIU system president Dan Mahoney and SIU chancellor Austin Lane. Some are planning a march on Saturday morning at the Student Services Building.
The increases include an annual salary increase and an annual housing allowance provided by the SIU system as well as incentives paid by the SIU Foundation. The compensation was unanimously approved by the SIU System Board of Directors.
Since the announcement of the salary increases was made public, SIU faculty and staff have expressed dissatisfaction with the SIU system that prioritizes salary increases for high-level administrators, while long-term employees date see their wages eclipsed by new workers.
Eugene Talley, an associate professor in the automotive school of the SIU’s Department of Automotive Technology, was one of the faculty members who spoke to the board ahead of its approval of the financial compensation packages.
“I was hired in 2009…I took a substantial pay cut to come here,” Talley said. “Since arriving, I’ve received the raise I earned for a tenure promotion, but the university hasn’t had a merit raise the entire time I’ve worked here.”
Talley said he was acting principal of the automotive school, but declined the offer when he was unanimously elected to take the job on a permanent basis.
“The reason I bring it up is because I’m told I can’t get more than 10% [raise] and then my salary won’t be reviewed until I become manager,” Talley said. “So if I were to be the manager for 10 years, my salary would not have had a performance adjustment for 23 years.”
Talley said morale at the university among faculty, and in automotive and aviation programs in particular, is at an all-time low and a comprehensive review of performance-adjusted salaries is badly needed.
Diane Lyall, representative of the Association of Public Service Employees, also addressed the Board of Directors, bringing the concerns of public servants to the fore.
“We have the most interaction with the students; we are the ones who keep the university running,” Lyall said. “Nevertheless, the absence of salary increases demonstrates that the board does not view us as important, significant, valuable or essential.”
Lyall said recent state minimum wage increases have created inequality between new and old employees, with new hires being paid more than 10 years of school service.
“Pay inequity is getting worse because we don’t reward employees who stay at the SIU. Full-time employees earn as much or less than some part-time students,” Lyall said.
This inequity has led to a cascading effect of experienced civil servants leaving the school while those who remain are urged to redouble their efforts to accommodate the shrinking pool of workers while maintaining the growing influx of new students, said Lyall.
“A lot of us have found ourselves doing the work of more than one person, position, or sometimes classification,” Lyall said. “Most employees have not been able to receive a personal position or receive increases within the classification to compensate for the increased workload.”
Lyall said the administration was not maintaining a proper work environment by receiving raises when the average employee earns $30,000 a year.
Lane said he’s been able to implement a 2% pay rise every year since taking office, but bigger increases will take time.
“It’s a marathon more than anything,” Lane said. “Our next phase is with our faculty, so our faculty senate chair and faculty committees will be looking at pay equity to see how we can raise those salaries as well.”
Lane said continued salary increases are contingent on increasing enrollment or maintaining current levels. He said the current salary issues stem from a long-standing salary freeze before his arrival and an incomplete 2015 budget passed by the state Senate, which resulted in the loss of 6,000 students.
“I think we’re on the right track to really push things forward and try to do compensation reviews in a way that will help employees see some differences,” Lane said. “Every time we see an increase in tuition revenue and an increase in state appropriations, we’re going to put that money directly on employees so we can address that equity gap.”
The salary increases were proposed by Board Chairman J. Phil Gilbert. Salary increases and bonuses were contingent on meeting performance metrics, including student enrollment and retention and additional fundraising efforts through the SIU Foundation.
Mahoney’s salary increases included an additional $8,700 per year as well as a housing allowance of $35,000 per year and up to $115,000 in additional performance bonuses paid by the SIU Foundation. Lane’s raises included an additional $6,804 per year with an annual housing allowance of $35,000 and up to $35,000 in performance bonuses.
“Anyone who works with the [SIU] The Foundation, regardless of position, receives performance bonuses when current goals are met,” said Board Chairman J. Phil Gilbert. “This approach is common for universities across the country.”
Gilbert said Mahoney and Lane would be intimately involved in a A fundraising of 500 million dollars by the SIU Foundation, a nonprofit organization of allies to faculty and alumni, and the two will help provide their own incentive from the Foundation.
Lyall said the money spent on administrators would be better spent raising salaries at SIU to be more competitive with other similar schools and its sister campus, SIU-Edwardsville (SIUE).
“For the past 19 years, I have been an office administrator. A new office administrator in Edwardsville makes 74 cents more than me, and I’ve been an employee for life,” Lyall said.
Lyall said many lower-ranking employees felt the administration was getting special financial treatment at the expense of the rest of the employees who keep the system running.
“The administration continues to be rewarded with raises with our unrepresented employees regardless of timing,” Lyall said. “Try to open our eyes to the difficulties our constituents face on a daily basis. Money is not SIU’s most valuable asset, our most valuable asset is our employees.
Staff reporter William Box can be contacted on [email protected] or on Twitter at @William17455137. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.
Edited to name attributions.