Tuesday, April 13, 2021

On behalf of you, our UI staff colleagues, Staff Council has been telling your stories to the Iowa Board of Regents (BoR) for the past 50+ years. And by perseverance and resolve, Staff Council has been your voice on topics such as supervisor training, pay equity, catastrophic leave, volunteer release time, and salary support, to name just a few. In the latest report to the BoR, Heather Mineart, President of Staff Council, lists the many ways UI staff members have been agile and resilient in the face of a global pandemic and other crises, and who deserve recognition for their efforts through BoR strong advocacy.  Damien Blair, Chair of the Merit Supervisory Exempt / Confidential Committee, a committee that focuses on issues that affect MSE/C employees, also wrote a letter to the BoR to list the ways this small subset of UI employees is important to the university and the state. Together, UI Staff Council is Your Voice for a Better UI.

Both of these letters may be viewed below:

March 30, 2021​​​

Dear President Richards and Members of the Board,

I would like to start by thanking the board for all their work on behalf of the state of Iowa’s Regent institutions. Staff Council has had a 50+ year tradition of representing Professional & Scientific and Merit Supervisory Exempt/Confidential staff who contribute to the teaching, research, patient care, and service mission of the university and to the State of Iowa. Staff Council currently has 55 dedicated peer elected staff who represent over 7,900 staff members.

I joined the University of Iowa Staff Council in 2017 at a time when we were struggling with de- appropriations on a seemingly annual basis. A combination of economic factors and efforts by University administration has helped to stem these reversions, but these positive changes are thanks in no small part to the leadership and advocacy of the Board of Regents. Salary increases for staff have been inconsistent and we are seeking your ongoing support to ensure that staff salaries are treated competitively as possible in terms of their salary and compensation package.

My term as Staff Council President has not taken the traditional route as my predecessors. Our world has changed, we have continued to endure the global pandemic, social injustice, derecho in August, budget cuts, not to mention the pressure and stresses effecting our personal lives.

Through all of this, staff have been agile and resilient. In the last year, we have asked many of our staff to work remotely, while essential/frontline staff have worked tirelessly to keep our health care enterprise, State Hygienic Laboratory, and research enterprise, to name a few, functioning at a high level.

With the uncertain times we faced in the last year, we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, we know our ‘new normal’ will never be what it had once been. Through this all, Staff Council has continued to play a critical role in promoting collaboration, diverse perspective, transparency, and staff recognition by continuing to partner with other shared governance groups as well as campus leaders regarding important and major decisions affecting staff. We continue to be focused and engaged with leadership to ensure a safe return to campus and what the Future of Work at Iowa looks like.

With the ongoing decrease in state appropriations, we ask that you continue your efforts to demand our state elected officials to fully support public institutions of higher education in Iowa. To also recognize the efforts, commitment, and contributions of our staff by continuing to support our strong benefits package, flexible and supportive employee work policies and consider other benefits such as discounting or providing free tuition for employees and their dependents.

We have learned a lot in the last year, and as an institution, we have continued to put our teaching, research, and service mission front and center in an effort to maintain the University of Iowa as the flagship institution we’ve come to expect. I ask you all to remember the efforts of the Regent institutions and their employees and continue to use your positions to influence our state elected officials to support one of the foundations of our state’s economic engine.

Since 1998, the fiscal budget from the state for the university has decreased by $8 million, this shifts the financial burden of higher education from state subsidies onto parents and students, which in turn effects staff in salaries cuts and programs. This encumbrance will continue to cause staff to forage for new philanthropic funding streams, support research and commercialization opportunities at a faster pace, ensure students remain focused on graduating in a timely manner, and redoubling efforts to find more efficiencies in all we do.

In summary, I ask that you:

  • Continue your efforts to demand our state elected officials fully support public institutions of higher education in Iowa

  • Help tell our successes, opportunities, and value to Iowans across the state and nation

  • Recognize the efforts, commitment, and contributions of our staff through increases that ensure that salary and overall compensation packages are competitive and also through meritorious service awards which encourage further innovation, entrepreneurship, and value-added opportunities

  • Provide a positive working environment through a continued strong benefits package, and flexible and supportive employee work policies, and

  • Recognize and support for our diverse work force—whether it be generational workplace expectations, intercultural understanding, physical or sexual identity differences—we all need to fully engage moving in the same direction to meet the strategic goals of the University of Iowa

In sincere gratitude and appreciation from all university staff.

Heather R. Mineart Staff Council President

March 30, 2021

Dear President Richards and Members of the Board,

I am writing today as a representative of the Regents Inter‐Institutional Supervisory and Confidential Advisory Council (RISCAC) which represents the 320 Merit system employees of the Board of Regents who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Merit Supervisory Exempt and Confidential (MSE/C) represent two groups of employees. The first group are Merit employees whose job duties place them in a supervisory role over other Merit employees who are covered by the collective bargaining agreement. The second group are employees who work in Human Resources or departmental offices and are considered confidential" employees because they have access to information that may be used in collective bargaining discussions. The RISCAC council was established to foster communication among MSE/C staff members at the Regents Institutions, provide a medium for dealing with issues of mutual concern, respond to inquiries, and formulate recommendations to shared governance, Board of Regents Director of Human Resources, and the Board of Regents themselves.

Members of our classification are among the hardest working employees at our Regents’ institutions. We support, supervise, and train many Merit employees, and in our work, we are required to exercise a deep skill set and address a broad spectrum of issues. We must be knowledgeable in HR matters, work rules, Merit contracts, IT issues, and safety issues just to mention a few areas of responsibility. In addition, many of us have a supervisory role to monitor and mentor employees for performance improvement. Many individuals have worked their way up through the Merit system ranks to the leadership roles they have today. MSE/C employees have displayed a high level of loyalty to their institution, have valuable knowledge of the institution and have provided leadership to ensure their respective institutions run smoothly and efficiently.

The RISCAC council and all MSE/C employees would like to thank the Board of Regents for the salary increases that we have received in the last year. This decision was greatly appreciated by the employees in the classification. We hope the Board will again consider a pay policy for the non‐represented supervisory and confidential staff in the Regent Merit System which is at least the same as the Merit employees, as has been the Board’s custom in the past.

With reference to the table below I’d like to take a moment to speak to another issue. The main salary concern of our constituency continues to be the large number of employees who are receiving maximum pay for their classification and no longer receive step pay increases each year. Currently 38% or 122 out of a total of 320 MSE/C employees throughout the Regents Institutions are at the top of their pay scale. Not only do these numbers represent a sizable portion of the MSE/C group, but many of these individuals have also been maxed out on their step increases for years.

The RISCAC Council and the MSE/C group feel that it would be beneficial to the Regents institutions and the state as a whole if the Board would consider reviewing this issue and look at what may be possible to address this concern. Possible solutions could include ensuring a cost of living increase each year, providing a one‐time step increase for employees who are currently maxed out or have been at the maximum for a specified number of years, or initiating a process to raise the pay scale for supervisory and confidential employees.

I’d like to conclude by stating that we appreciate being afforded this opportunity to express our opinions as well as for you taking the time to review our requests. Thank you for your time and efforts.

Damien Blair, Clerk IV
University of Iowa, Human Resources staff-council-msec@uiowa.edu