University News

Library workers unhappy with payroll shift

By
Contributing Writer

The union of library workers may file a grievance against the University, citing its failure to negotiate upcoming payroll changes, said Karen McAninch ’74, business agent for the United Service and Allied Workers union, which represents custodial and library employees of the University.

The University will change the way it pays 700 of its employees in mid-July, converting its semimonthly pay schedule into a biweekly pay schedule. Instead of receiving their checks on the 15th and the last working day of each month, workers will receive pay every other Friday. This biweekly system means that workers are not guaranteed to be paid by the last day of the month, when rent and utilities are typically due, McAninch said.

For example, when the changes go into effect in July, employees will receive one check instead of two, due to the lag created by the change.

“I already (have) a dangerously low balance,” said Marie Malchodi, a library technical assistant. “I’m married to a musician with two children.”

McAninch and other representatives of the library workers’ union met with the administration Tuesday to protest the payroll changes. They requested two weeks extra pay to ease workers through the payroll transition. This would add up to $1 million in University costs, McAninch said.

The administration has offered one week’s advance to help staff with the payroll transition.

The new biweekly system “provides the University with an opportunity to improve our payroll practices,” wrote Karen Davis, vice president for human resources, in an email to The Herald. “Our current practice of paying these employees for time ‘projected’ to be worked through the end of a pay period may not provide an accurate reflection of total hours worked, including overtime hours, that the University may owe to an employee, or time not worked, which can then result in an overpayment.”

The University is changing its payroll schedule because the old schedule cannot be supported by Payroll, the new administrative software, according to the University’s workday project website. The software will provide several benefits – workers will be able to view their financial information electronically, and administrators can electronically log the number of hours individuals work, eliminating the need for paper timesheets, according to the website.

“They don’t even have the desire to negotiate,” said Patricia Dumin, senior library specialist for digital technologies, who attended the meeting Tuesday. Currently, the union is deciding whether to file a grievance or an unfair labor practice against the University, legal actions that could force the administration to come to the bargaining table.

The change to biweekly pay will affect library workers, secretaries, graduate students and other general staff.

While the union has protested the upcoming payroll changes, non-union workers have remained silent. “I don’t think the other non-unionized staff who are going to be affected by this are necessarily aware,” Malchodi said.

The library workers’ union has a history of conflicts with the University. Employees went two years without a contract in 2002, and students marched in support of library workers when the University proposed a hike in health care premiums in 2010.

Union membership has declined 30 percent in recent years, McAninch said. The University has been hiring non-union staff, who receive their checks on a monthly basis and do not receive overtime pay, she added.