UW System asks state to increase wages - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW System asks state to increase wages

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Last week the UW-System approved a couple of requests to increase pay for its faculty and staff.

Now the system president, Kevin Reilly will be asking the state for their approval of the plan to bring wages up to par with other university systems in the country.

UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire are part of that system and work to support their staff when money is tight.

"We're losing people.  They're going to other states for salaries $10,000 - $25,000 more than we can pay them here," says UW-Stout chancellor Charles Sorensen.

That's at UW-Stout and it's not a new trend, in fact the chancellor says they also have a little trouble attracting new talent to teach on campus.

"We have brought people here, they look at the school, they like it, we've made the offer, they say, 'No thanks.'  It's just not enough money, so it's a challenge, a real challenge," says Sorensen.

Which is why the UW-system board of regents is asking to be included in any state employee raises issued by the legislature during this budget cycle.

"Can't anticipate what will be the compensation plan for all state employees, we don't know.  Whether it will be one year or two year or what the percentages will be.  All we know is we'd like to be part of that," says UW-Eau Claire Provost Patricia A. Kleine.

At UW-Eau Claire professors are paid almost $19,000 less than what their peers make at schools of similar size across the country.

At UW-Stout it's close to $21,000 less.

"More than likely we'll have to use some internal resources to perhaps do a supplemental pay plan for faculty and staff here," says Kleine.

Because most wages are currently funded through Wisconsin's General Purpose Revenue, which is shrinking...add on top of that the state tuition freeze and these campuses are having a difficult time seeing any pay raises in their future, unless the state approves spending money out of its Compensation Reserve Fund.

"Even with that, we'll pay a portion of that won't cover all our salaries.  So we'll pay a portion with base reallocation," says Sorensen.

This is where each campus' budget reserves come into play, something politicians call a surplus in the system. 

The state moved $90 million out of the system's control to state control. 

So without the money and without a tuition increase some schools can't fund a pay raise, instead they can only shuffle around funds at the campus level, or base funds, to pay employees what they currently earn.

"We're not sitting here asking for money.  We're trying to maintain the quality of UW-Eau Claire," says Kleine.

The next step for the board's request is for Kevin Reilly to seek approval from the Joint Committee on Employment Relations for a pay plan above the base offered to all state employees.

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