Updated: Raises ahead for many UI employees

Updated: Raises ahead for many UI employees

URBANA — Many University of Illinois employees will receive an average raise of 2.75 percent next month, following an announcement by President Bob Easter on Monday.

The 2.75 percent raise is merit-based and can vary by employee and department. However, Easter said he has requested that every employee, except in special circumstances, receive at least a 0.5 percent raise.

The news comes following Gov. Pat Quinn's recent signing of the General Assembly appropriation bills that allocated flat funding for the UI's direct general tax support this fiscal year. The UI will receive $647 million for its direct appropriation this year. The state's "payments on behalf" — the amount it pays for employees' health insurance and other benefits — is not known at this time, but for the most recent fiscal year the amount was $1.04 billion, according to UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

The raises are effective with the new UI employment year, which begins in August. What union members will receive depends on the union's contract language.

Easter also said administrators can provide additional increases of up to 0.5 percent for "special market/equity adjustments."

UI officials arrived at the 2.75 percent average, Hardy said, by considering factors such as the increased amounts employees will pay for health care (premiums have nearly doubled) as well as the expectation that changes to the pension system will require employees to pay more into the system.

"Overall, the objective was to provide a modest, merit-based salary program that tries to keep the university competitive in recruiting and retaining faculty and staff," he said.

The salary program is estimated to cost the university $29.4 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014.

That money is coming from "a combination of state funds and tuition, and a combination of belt-tightening and good management of our resources over the last several years after several years of fiscal stress given the economy and state's finances and record applications of enrollment on our three campuses," Hardy said.

University administrators are currently planning their budgets for the year; trustees are likely to approve the 2014 budget at their September meeting. Last month, the board approved a resolution authorizing expenditures based on the 2013 levels. The UI's budget for the fiscal year that just ended was $5.4 billion.

"Providing a competitive employee compensation and benefits package in a consistent and predictable manner is essential to recruit and retain the best personnel, and it is among our highest human resources objectives. This has been a challenge given the State of Illinois' fiscal instability during the last decade, which has required a great deal of sacrifice by our people," Easter said in his email message to employees on Monday.

"The state's financial circumstances will continue to challenge us, but the university is accomplishing much through prudent resource management and planning, which allows us to provide a competitive but modest salary program," he wrote.

Last fiscal year's salary program was for 2.5 percent, and in 2012 employees received an average of 3 percent. There was no formal merit program in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, the average raise was 1.5 percent.

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Reykjavik wrote on July 01, 2013 at 10:07 pm

The raises are good news for UIUC and good news for the twin cities where much of these funds will be spent.  Let's all just hope, for the sake of the students and the community, that Easter and colleagues can resolve the pension crisis as it applies to U of I.