Reclassification concerns voiced at staff assembly meeting

Marais Jacon-Duffy | Editor-in-Chief

Butler staff members discussed dissatisfaction with recent reclassification of their jobs at today’s staff assembly meeting.

Reclassification requires staff members’ jobs to be reevaluated and potentially changed from salary to hourly pay or a change in overtime exemption. Additionally, all hourly paid employees are now paid bi-weekly rather than monthly.

Staff grievances addressed in the meeting primarily dealt with the lack of communication about the issue and the short notice of the change.

Staff members in attendance said they were given “one week” prior to the school year starting to be informed of the changes.

Staff also expressed a concern with a lack of representation on the issue. No staff members were consulted on the issue of present on the “panel of experts” mentioned in correspondence from University officials.

University President James Danko and Board of Trustees Vice Chair Keith Burks attended the meeting. Danko addressed concerns at the end of the meeting in a question and answer session.

“This is not what many would expect, communication-wise,” Danko said about the reclassification process. “I apologize. This is something that will cost the university money, but it is something we have to get right.”

Danko said the communication issues during the reclassification process is not indicative of Butler’s human resources department’s ability to operate.

“They have been on the front lines of this issue,” Danko said. “It is easy to blame the upper administration for problems, but that’s not always the case. I don’t blame the board of trustees when things go wrong.”

Administrative specialist Joey Wohlhieter from Butler’s modern languages department began the question and answer session.

He said, as a Butler alumnus, he was excited to be hired by the university in the spring, but was very disappointed in the way the situation was handled. He was applauded at the conclusion of his question.

“I feel, and from talking to other folks, that none of our questions are being answered,” Wohlhieter said. “People are talking in circles. No one is taking responsibility.”

Other staff members spoke about their own financial hardships resulting from the reclassification, such as trouble getting a home loan and a drastic change in expected monthly pay with little notice.

“There is a perception of a lack of respect,” one staff member said at the meeting.

“The big problem is morale,” one staff member, who said she has worked at Butler for over two decades, said. “The people who keep this place running have lost their enthusiasm.”

Danko said if any staff members feel they have been misclassified or disadvantaged financially, the staff member should go to human resources.

“We need to know where, why and fix it immediately. Period,” he said.

Danko attributed employment regulations and compliance with laws as the driving force behind the recent reclassification.

Earlier in the meeting, he spoke about the major hit taken financially by the significantly smaller incoming freshman class, which led to a tighter budget.

He ended the meeting on a promise to involve staff assembly in any future decisions about reclassification processes.

“Around this whole thing is a real financial issue and a personal, emotional issue as well,” Danko said. “I can assure you that no one’s intent was malicious and this was not intended to cut back on hours or anything like that. Please don’t hesitate to go to HR with individual concerns.”

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