Tuesday, the Memorial Union’s Great Hall filled with University of Wisconsin employees who debated the Human Resources Design Project’s recommendations.
A panel made up of graduate students, professors, Wisconsin University members, the HRDP team and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees prepared five-minute speeches issues regarding the future for academic staff.
Barb Peters, a member of AFSCME 171, said she was concerned with seniority, noting staff who have worked longer may not have health insurance when they started, but new workers now receive it.
“It is great that people starting out now are getting insurance, but we also need something for the people that didn’t have insurance when they started and have been working here supporting the university for years,” Peters said.
She also expressed concern employees who are just starting their employment make the same amount of money as those who have been at UW for years.
Linda Michaels, a state employee for 18 years and Wisconsin Professional Employees Council member, said she agreed with Peters, giving an example of an employee she is training who has no experience, yet makes $4 an hour more than she does.
UW education professor Noah Feinstein said the HRDP changes are a positive opportunity but may also prove to be a risky move. He said the faculty should show that their concerns, such as those for more money, reflect the shared values of the UW community. He noted changes should benefit the UW’s success as a whole.
“This is not a choice between the hard reality of the market and squishy values,” Feinstein said. “Taking the market road also represents a value position.”
Bob Lavigna, UW director of human resources, was the last on the panel to speak, and he outlined the HDRP’s development from July 2011 to today. He said the plans were a great opportunity but also a great challenge of “balancing many different interests.”
He added the HRDP recommendations that will be made to the state lawmakers were created through reaching out to the campus community as a whole. He also praised the UW employees for making the university successful.
“At the end of the day, we all understand that the reason this is a world-renowned university is because of the quality of people that work here,” Lavigna said.