For Release May 07
Regents Review Salaries for Next Year, Discuss Union Lawsuit
BROOKINGSToday at its regular business meeting, the South Dakota Board of Regents was to receive salary increase recommendations for faculty and non-faculty exempt employees at the six universities and the two special schools. In addition to the three-percent salary pool appropriated by the Legislature in the 1998 session, the FY99 salary increases are to be funded by the salary competitiveness plan adopted by the Regents in December of last year.
The Board had been prepared to approve at this meeting a comprehensive set of salary recommendations from the administrations of the universities and special schools. The action was postponed by the Board, however, because of legal actions taken by the Council on Higher Education, COHE, the union that negotiates for the faculty at the universities.
COHE has obtained a writ of prohibition from the South Dakota Supreme Court. That writ prevents the Regents from taking any action to implement the salary increases, until such time as the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of an amendment to the 1998 general appropriations bill. The bill was enacted by the Legislature in the last hours of the last day the Legislature was in session. The amendment directed the Regents to distribute salary increases at its sole discretion, without regard for the collective bargaining statutes.
Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry said, "As I understand COHEs position, they are challenging the action of the Legislature, and, in the meantime, are asking the Supreme Court to prohibit the Regents from awarding salary increases that were determined without negotiating with the union."
Regents general counsel James Shekleton said, "The Court has allowed the Regents to offer contracts containing salary figures from FY98. Our employees will now be assured of employment next year. And our universities can begin the process of filing vacancies. The Regents interpreted the amendment to the general appropriations bill to mean that we were to set the guidelines for granting increases and that is what the Regents have done. The Legislature is not obligated to fund any salary package, with or without negotiation."
The salary competitiveness plan was developed by the Regents to boost salaries of South Dakota faculty and staff who are exempt from the Career Service Act. In FY98 faculty salaries trailed neighboring states by 16.62%, while exempt employees trailed by 21.32%. A combination of student fee increases and reductions in full-time equivalent employees will fund the salary competitiveness plan. In addition, the Governor recommended and the Legislature appropriated for salary enhancement those state general funds that would have been cut from the Regents budget due to declining enrollments over the last few years.
"As part of the general appropriations bill, the policymakers directed the Board of Regents to distribute the funds for salaries at its discretion," said Perry. "Therefore, when the Board adopted salary distribution guidelines in March, it directed the institutions to consider high priority academic programs, individual employee performance, and market information. Salary increases had been recommended by the institutions, based on these considerations."
Career Service Act employees are not affected by the salary competitiveness plan or the pending COHE lawsuit. They will receive the three-percent raise granted by the Legislature to all state employees. CSA employees also qualify for the below mid-point salary adjustments that have been granted to state employees since FY90. These adjustments are given to state government employees whose salaries are behind the salaries in their labor market.
Regents President James O. Hansen said. "Well just have to wait and see what comes of COHEs action before the Supreme Court. We hope for a speedy resolution of this issue so that we can implement this first year of our three-year plan to increase salaries. And let individual faculty and staff person know their salaries for next year."
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