OPS finalizes plan for pay hikes

By Eric Krol

A committee charged with the task of finding enough money to give NIU faculty and staff a pay hike has finalized its plan.

The committee of Organization, Productivity and Salaries (OPS) held its final meeting Friday and examined exactly how the funds for a 4.4 percent salary increase will be accumulated.

NIU President John La Tourette, who formed OPS in his February State of the University at mid-year address, said he was pleased with the plan because it met his objectives.

The committee, which was comprised of representatives from the faculty, operating staff and student groups, met the following goals set by La Tourette:

‘ The plan generates the resources necessary to support the funding of a salary increment for all categories of employees—regular and temporary faculty, operating and supportive staff and graduate assistants, La Tourette stated.

The plan will kick up the $2.6 million needed for a 3 percent pay jump on July 1. The plan also includes funds for offsetting the $150 health insurance increase for next year. There is a possibility for a higher salary increase if tuition is raised by more than 4 percent.

During fiscal year 1994 the plan also calls for an additional 1 percent salary increase, which brings the total salary hike over the two-year period to 4.4 percent.

The plan is a guideline which is subject to change because lawmakers in Springfield are not set on next year’s budget. However, most experts have said education likely will be spared the budget ax for yet another year.

The state has not provided much in the way of salary increases during the past few years, La Tourette said. The salary hike comes at a time when temporary faculty are attempting to unionize and regular faculty have been tossing around the idea of a union.

‘ The plan minimizes the impact on each of the divisions by recognizing the size, turnover rate and other degrees of flexibility for each division, La Tourette stated.

Under the plan, Academic Affairs will eliminate 15 positions and kick up $450,000, Business Affairs will cut 12 jobs and come up with $360,000 and Student Affairs will chop 3 positions and generate $90,000. The rest of the $1.2 million will be split among the other divisions.

‘ The plan allows each division the flexibility to address the cuts over a two-year period and allows divisions to utilize all available lines of funds, La Tourette stated. The cuts will be spread over the next two fiscal years.

‘ The plan does not directly affect the teaching faculty, La Tourette stated.

‘ The plan can be undertaken without furloughs or layoffs of existing faculty and staff, La Tourette stated.

The plan is supposed to reduce staff by leaving positions vacant and consolidating workloads as well as through early retirement possibilities.

However, one member of the committee felt this was a myth. OPS member Joan Greening said she knew of some people who are going to lose their jobs but could not get specific in a public meeting.

‘ The vice presidents and division heads have said that there would be some effects, but the plan is workable and the targets can be achieved, La Tourette stated.

NIU’s numerous vice presidents addressed OPS during the past few weeks to present their plans and air their concerns.

The OPS plan will also get money from a 600-student enrollment reduction plan, cuts in intercollegiate athletics, utility conservation and a staff reduction plan.

The plan also generated enough extra money to give $300,000 to Academic Affairs for the sole purpose of improving instruction next year.

Of course, making the cuts was undesirable in the first place, but La Tourette said, “My job is to keep the ship afloat through a narrow channel.”