ASPA members OK new job classification system
By Lawrence McMahen
U of S middle-level staff have overwhelmingly ratified a new job classification and pay structure negotiated by their union and the University’s management.
An April 20 meeting packed with 438 members of the Administrative & Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA) voted 95 per cent in favour of the deal which will put the new structure in place May 1, 2004.
The move is the culmination of a 51/2-year joint U of S-ASPA job evaluation process which saw most positions reviewed in an effort to create a fairer, more equitable classification structure.
And both management and ASPA leaders are calling the resulting system a dramatic improvement over the old one.
It reduces the number of pay levels for ASPA’s approximately 700 members to four from the previous 12 and provides for a much greater range of pay in each, so employees can continue to increase their pay scale for as much as 18 years, rather than the previous 10 years.
The new system sets out five “job families”, each with one, two or three “phases”, or levels. Each phase in each job family has a pay range and as many as 18 annual pay increments from minimum to maximum pay. The job families are: Operational/Administrative; Instructional; Information Technology; Specialist/Professional; and Managerial.
“We see this as a very good start to getting a good compensation plan for members,” ASPA job evaluation lead negotiator Curtis Larson says.
“It’s fair, equitable and transparent,” he adds.
Long-time ASPA job evaluation committee member Brad Steeves says the agreement “is the conclusion of a long-overdue process that has been needed to modernize our compensation system.”
Barb Daigle, associate vice-president of human resources, says the new system of broad pay bands “recognizes the similarities in jobs” across ASPA. She adds the job evaluation process also included a lot of market comparison of University jobs with those outside the U of S.
Larson and Daigle say the University and the union used an interest-based, problem-solving bargaining process to arrive at the new classification system.
Larson says ASPA’s bargainers looked out for the best interests of members and at the same time recognized the University’s current financial situation.
“ASPA wants to be part of the solution and part of the president’s strategic directions for the University,” Larson says.
At the same time, he says, “We really look at this agreement as the University making an investment in ASPA and in the future of University-ASPA relations.”
Larson notes that May 1, 2004–April 30, 2005 is the final year of a three-year 2002-05 collective agreement between the University and ASPA.
Daigle says ASPA members will receive a 3.5-per cent pay increase on May 1, 2004, which is made up of the three-per-cent pay raise already provided for by the collective agreement, plus another 0.5 per cent of merit-pay funds which had not been allocated.
The University will invest more than $1 million in 2004-05 to begin implementing job evaluation for ASPA – money which was set aside over the past four years for this purpose.
Around May 1 all ASPA members will receive a letter from the Human Resources Division telling them which new job family and phase their position has been put into.
The new salary scale has set a “target point” salary, just below the mid-point of each salary range, and the agreement says those people whose salary is more than 10 per cent below their target point will have their salary increased to 10 per cent below the target point May 1.
It also says it will be a goal to have all those people being paid at the target point salary by May 1, 2007.
The agreement also provides for lump-sum payments on May 31 to ASPA members whose salaries are below their target point on May 1, 2004. Those hired between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2003 will get $1,000. Those hired between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002 will get $2,000. Those hired before July 1, 2001 will get $3,500.
ASPA admits that some members will have their pay “red-circled”, if their current salary is higher than the salary provided for in the new classification system.
They and any other ASPA members will be able to apply for reconsideration of the placement of their position in the new system. They must do so by May 31 and results of the appeals will be known by Oct. 1. Members placed in the Operational/Administrative job family are being encouraged to review their placements and consider applying for reconsideration since ASPA and the University felt the information on these positions may not be complete and they want to ensure the jobs are correctly placed.
Larson and Steeves say they hope this agreement is a step on the road to even more improvements in the areas of better performance appraisals for staff and being better able to classify new jobs as they’re created on campus.