I need more time!
January 6, 2012 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Before the current economic crisis what kind of annual raises could public (US state university system) employees expect? I'm trying to renegotiate my contract from a 12 month to a 10 month.

I'm an academic librarian and have held the same position for almost three years. I'm lucky to have a job that I love, and I'm very good at it. My pay is shit and I haven't gotten a raise since I started, in spite of outstanding evaluations. I'm very frugal and am doing ok financially, have some savings, and have no debt except student loans which I repay on an income-based plan.

Summers on campus are very dead and I would like more time to spend with my kids and grandkids who live far away. I've asked about the possibility of changing my contract to a ten-month one, and my boss is open to the possibility, especially now that I have a colleague who does essentially the same work and does not want to change her 12 mth contract. I'm going to try to argue that instead of 10/12ths of my current piddly salary I want 10/12ths of what my salary would be by now if I'd had regular raises. Does this sound reasonable?

I can live on less, will save by not having to commute 50 miles a day, by paying less on student loans, saving on utilities when I'm away, by possibly being in a lower tax bracket, by eating at home, etc.
posted by mareli to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Best answer: I wouldn't expect regular raises to be more than 3-5% a year for a public university job. I believe I had something like a 2.5% annual increase at my last university position, though that was negotiated down or eliminated in union bargaining more than once. I'm not sure that's going to make a big-enough-to-be-felt difference when you do the math-- it'll probably be a couple thousand total a year, something like $100 monthly before taxes/~$70 after taxes.

For example:
Year 1 $30,000
Year 2 $30,900 (3% raise)
Year 3 $31,827 (3% raise)
10/12 of $31,827=$26,522

10/12 of $30,000=$25,000
Difference $1,522/12= $126.83 a month

If you get your health insurance through your job, be careful how going to a 10-month contract will impact your insurance coverage and/or premiums. In my experience, public-service positions have much better insurance benefits than private ones-- your pay is low, but the improved benefits generally offset that. At my last university job, 100% of the insurance premiums were covered for full-time employees-- but part-time employees had to pay a portion themselves. When I went to part-time to go to grad school I had to chose between reduced coverage and paying a small premium or keeping my coverage level and paying something like $200 a month.

Keeping your insurance coverage and premiums at full-time levels might have more of an impact on your cashflow, so if that's the case, you might try to negotiate for that instead (or in addition).
posted by Kpele at 12:25 PM on January 6, 2012

Response by poster: Forgot to mention, when i asked about the health insurance issue I was told I would just be like a regular ten-month faculty member and the university would continue to cover me the same.
posted by mareli at 12:46 PM on January 6, 2012

At many universities I know, benefits are extended to any employee over 50% time.

It's the retirement benefits that sometimes change - instead of the university accounting for what they contribute to your retirement as a full time employee, they do so at whatever percentage FTE (Full time employee) you are.

Anyway, at my institution, raises, when they existed, were 2-4%. However, there was a freeze for a few years. I wonder if they might expect you to not add those years are potential raise years. I imagine HR would know which ones those were.
posted by anitanita at 3:05 PM on January 6, 2012

I'm also an academic librarian. We got raises in the 2% range, plus the possibility of up to another 1% or so based on merit, each year before the state budget tanked. This year enrollment was way up, and we got raises for the first time in several years. It came from tuition dollars, not the state; those raises were 2.5%.
posted by donnagirl at 10:26 PM on January 6, 2012

So very very late. You probably won't even see this, but as an added data point: we got cost-of-living raises in the neighborhood of 3% at my university, prior to the recession (or whatever they're calling it now).
posted by ashirys at 1:33 PM on January 9, 2012

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