Have you been paid over the past year? Were you paid the correct amount? If you can answer yes to both of these questions, then it appears you can count yourself lucky. Since July 2012 there have been the following fiascos related to Payroll, which is part of the Department of Human Resources:
1. Failure to pay raises to Academic Support Professionals at the contractually-mandated time, which is July 1.
2. Late payment of Unit B (temporary and part-time) faculty, in some cases by several pay periods when faculty were teaching but not being paid.
3. Inaccurate calculation of contractually-mandated raises for several faculty members.
4. Late deduction of union dues from UPI members’ paychecks, followed by a series of negotiations between UPI and the University over the amount of dues paid, ending in the University unilaterally deciding that it had overpaid UPI (without properly documenting this overpayment) and then remitting almost no dues at all to UPI for the pay periods ending April 15, April 30, and May 15, 2013 (despite that union dues were deducted from members’ paychecks for those pay periods).
5. Late payment of salary to most employees for the pay period ending March 31, 2013 (you remember, this was right after Glenn Meeks was fired).
6. Allegedly “overpaying” several, possibly all, Academic Support Professionals starting with the pay period ending March 31 (interesting date) by allegedly giving them the raises for “administrators”, not realizing that raises for Academic Support Professionals should have already been applied on July 1 (see number 1 above).
7. Unilaterally deducting pay from paychecks for Academic Support Professionals in the situation outlined in point 6 above, without negotiating a reasonable repayment schedule with UPI or even documenting that such repayment needed to occur.
8. Failure to pay summer salary and inaccurate payment of summer salary (in some cases with an alleged “overpayment” similar to that described in points 6 & 7 above) for some faculty members.
Now, we could follow the description of these egregious situations with the usual series of sarcastic comments about the incompetence and unprofessionalism of some administrators at the University, particularly those who were given substantial raises in January like the Directory of Human Resources. However, it seems that another approach is warranted. These are not just individual acts of singular incompetence over the past year, but instead they appear to be part of a pattern – a systemic problem, not merely a series of individual ones.
If they are a systemic pattern, then perhaps we should ask a few questions: Who is hurt most by such a system? Who or what could possibly benefit from such a system? Why is this system, with its apparently built-in failures and crises, tolerated? These questions point to the political dynamics of the systemic failures in Payroll and Human Resources, and if we can answer these questions the most important question is then what can be done?
Many grievances and Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) have been filed related to all of those items above, but those grievances and ULPs only address the specifics of each situation. The broader systemic problem appears to require some other solution.