Auburn University has some great benefits for exempt (A&P) and non-exempt (Staff) employees, but have you ever wondered how those came to be? University Staff Council plays a crucial role in advocating for new and equitable benefits for non-exempt employees. Some of the benefits we know and love, like the Education benefit, came about through the combined efforts of A&P Assembly and University Staff Council. So, what exactly is University Staff Council? Like Faculty Senate or A&P Assembly, Staff Council is an elected governance group, in this case for non-exempt employees. Their focus is to work on issues that pertain to their constituents – in this case, Staff employees.
Did you know that Auburn University has a classification of non-faculty employees? Employees paid bi-weekly, non-exempt employees, are called Staff, and salaried, exempt employees, are called A&P. Until January 2021 these groups have had different benefits based on that distinction! The biggest difference in the benefits has been in the way that each group earns vacation days or accrues leave. A&P employees earned 160 hours of vacation time a year and Staff earned on a five-level tier based on years of service. After nine years of consecutive employment Staff employees would earn leave at the same rate as their A&P colleagues.
In November 2018 University Staff Council leaders began working on this issue and drafted a position statement to establish leave accrual equity between A&P and Staff employees. By December 2018 the University Staff Council Steering Committee had approved the position statement and shortly after the document was shared with AU Human Resources and submitted to the Office of the President. The initiative was very well received by executive leadership and it was approved to be presented to the Insurance and Benefits committee. The Insurance and Benefits committee conducted benchmarking studies at universities across the Southeast, focusing on SEC schools. Based on the findings they drafted a proposal, with the help of University Staff Council leaders, on August 3, 2020. On September 1, 2020 representatives of the Insurance & Benefits Committee submitted the proposal to executive leadership in the President’s Office and it was immediately approved.
Effective January 1, 2021, with the unanimous support from our campus leaders, President Gogue, General Burgess, Kelli Shomaker and HR Leadership, as well the Insurance and Benefits Committee, Auburn University will replace the current 5 tier table, based on service years for non-exempt employees, with a single tier accrual rate of 160 hours per year.
University Staff Council is proud of their success in reducing inequality between the A&P and Staff employees, but we know there’s more work to be done. If you have noticed an inequality issue, please bring it to a University Staff Council representative so we can get to work advocating for you!
Post Contributed by Allana Pierce, University Staff Council Representative, Technical Specialist II, Library of Architecture, Design and Construction