- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
All faculty, staff and administrators at St. Mary’s College of Maryland will receive raises this fall, and then a 2 percent raise next January, thanks to money from a tuition increase and extra state funding.
The college’s board of trustees Saturday approved a new three-year contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents college staff, offering them $1,000 raises and other benefits. Those 105 union employees are among the lowest paid at the college and include maintenance, grounds, housekeeping, public safety, information technology and some other nonteaching staff.
Once the amount of money was determined for those staff raises, the remainder of a $820,000 pot of money dedicated by the college’s board of trustees last spring to raises was divvied up among faculty and administrators, said Tom Botzman, vice president for business and finance.
“Everyone will get an across-the-board increase” that is retroactive to Sept. 1, Botzman said. “The most highly paid will get the smallest increases.”
The increases for staff, teachers and administrators will range from less than $100 to $1,000.
“This, I think, has already done wonders for morale on campus,” Alan Dillingham, the faculty senate president, told the trustees Saturday.
The state government has said that state employees cannot receive merit raises until 2014. However, all state employees are due for a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment Jan. 1, 2013. All college employees will also be offered that pay increase, Botzman said.
The $1,000 salary hike coupled with the 2 percent raise will mean about a 6 percent overall raise for the college’s lowest paid full-time employees.
“I am pleased that we are finally able to compensate the staff on campus,” President Joseph Urgo said during the meeting. “We welcome the thaw in the state’s salary freeze.”
Bobby Clements, a maintenance worker at the college and president of the local chapter of AFSCME, said the agreement was approved unanimously by union members on Sept. 7. With the trustees’ blessing Saturday, the three-year contract, which can be reopened in year two and three for discussions on wages, is now in effect.
Clements praised the negotiation process and the college administrators involved.
Both Clements and Botzman said they did not know of any other state employees who negotiated a raise this summer.
The summer’s negotiations were “collegial and very professional,” trustee John Wobensmith said Saturday.
“It’s a hell of a lot more fun asking for raises than tuition increases,” Wobensmith said.
The trustees in March voted to increase student tuition this year by 4 percent to pay for college employee raises. That increase was reduced to 2 percent after the state later chipped in extra money.
Last spring St. Mary’s College students organized a protest in support of a living wage for college staff. Dozens marched across campus with signs supporting college workers. The starting salary for the lowest-paid staff is $24,500.
St. Mary’s College was permitted to give raises last January for the first time since fiscal year 2008 to 18 administrators and other employees referred to as operationally critical staff, costing about $116,000. Also in January, the college gave what were referred to as faculty promotion and retention raises to about 50 professors, costing a total of $150,000. About 40 others received faculty retention raises last year, according to college administrators.
General staff at the college — including maintenance, housekeeping and public safety — have not received raises for several years, and college administrators said that is due to a wage freeze imposed by the state government.
The college trustees have also begun a review of the performance of President Joseph Urgo to decide whether to offer him a continuation of his initial three-year contract, which expires next summer.
Molly Mahoney Matthews, chair of the trustees, said the trustees are developing a formal process to discuss the renewal and continuation of Urgo’s contract, and that it would come from the review and compensation committee.
Matthews said Urgo’s contract could move to an “at-will” format next July, assuming he stays with the college.