Union college workers object to 'bonuses'
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system union workers say this is not the time to pay top officials bonuses and high salaries.
Union members Tuesday particularly blasted a $50,000 payment made to Chancellor James McCormack after he retired this summer, but also criticized other high-level system workers and campus presidents' extra pay. While MnSCU officials said the payments are part of their salaries, made when all job expectations are met, union workers called them bonuses that are not proper when staff and faculty are being laid off.
During a protest outside of a MnSCU Board of Trustees meeting in downtown St. Paul, June Clark of the Minnesota Community and Technical College Fergus Falls campus held up a photo showing weeds growing at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College.
"They don't have money to hire a groundskeeper," Clark said.
Sheryl Jones, a 25-year employee of Minnesota State University Moorhead, said that she is not opposed to the retired chancellor's pay, but it is bad policy in this time of economic problems to give what appears to be a bonus.
MnSCU Board Chairman Scott Thiss said in an interview that MnSCU, with 31 state-run colleges and universities across Minnesota, must offer competitive pay to attract good administrators. He said Minnesota's public higher education institutions pay below the country's average.
With a $2 billion budget, performance pay is "minuscule," he said.
"They should step back and look at the situation," Jones countered.
Clark said members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees accepted no pay raises the last two years to help the system's financial problems, caused in part by shrinking state aid. She said administrators should do the same.
Polly Kellogg, just retired as a St. Cloud State University human relations professor, said students are more nervous than she has seen in her years as a faculty member. She said they are concerned about financial aid and tuition costs.
With that in mind, Kellogg said, "the idea that bosses are getting raises infuriated me."
Thiss said new system Chancellor Steven Rosenstone was brought in at $316,000 a year pay, the same as the outgoing chancellor.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.