During the fall semester, staff salaries were discussed in various forums: in Day Hall and union halls, Goldwin Smith Hall and dining halls.
For one hour on Dec. 13 at noon, 700 Cornell community members will convene under one roof to hear President Hunter R. Rawlings’ III State of the University Address to Employees.
“So often they are working for the same goal, and they don’t even know it,” said Brian T. Goodell, a TCAT driver.
A member of the Employee Assembly, Goodell worked with other University staff members to advise Rawlings on the issues of greatest importance among employees.
“They [committee members] write down a bunch of issues that they want the President to speak on, and from that he derives his speech,” Goodell said.
Noting the sentiment of his colleagues in the staff ranks, Goodell added, “It is so vital for our communication to be there.”
University officials suggested that Rawlings will include an announcement regarding staff salaries, following up on his statement of commitment to both faculty and staff last year.
Rawlings and Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin announced a long-term faculty salary initiative in July, and since then the administration has studied staff compensation in detail.
“The semester was a continuation of several things we started some time ago,” said Mary G. Opperman, vice president for human resources. “The issues that the staff had been telling us about we had been compiling those and I had been giving reports to the President all along.”
Still, “we won’t be done for a while yet,” she added.
Opperman emphasized the consistency that the University has demonstrated in raising salaries and making changes to suit the staff.
“We have been working very hard since 1996 to understand and address very difficult issues,” Opperman said.
However, officials point to major obstacles that are blocking a quick solution to raising salaries. For instance, Rawlings noted last year that the state budget has acted as a hindrance to improving salaries in statutory facilities.
“Because of inadequate state budgets, salary improvement has been more difficult on the statutory side, but we are working to gain more flexibility from the state to address salary issues for both faculty and staff,” Rawlings said last year.
Goodell will be in the audience for this year’s address, hoping for an announcement that speaks directly to the concerns that have been raised.
“I am hoping for a positive address,” he said.
Ultimately, one thing is for sure: the discussion and the process of employee relations will continue regardless of what is said on Dec. 13.
“We will continue to meet with staff, and we will respond as we can,” Opperman said.
“I am feeling really good about the things we have done and the direction we are taking,” she said.
Archived article by Matthew Hirsch