Virginia Tech’s salaried faculty and staff received a one-time three percent bonus in December, the first increase in compensation since 2007.
The General Assembly passed a motion in early 2010 to allow state employees, which includes all of Tech’s employees, to receive the bonus if the state met certain budget cutting and revenue increasing goals.
“It was an action by the governor to recognize that employees had not received any change in compensation,” said Dwight Shelton, Tech’s vice president of finance. “If the state generated enough money to pay for it, he allowed for that one-time bonus.”
Fall bonuses were typically given to state employees in years past, but the state debt made it harder for the General Assembly to justify the past three years.
Although appreciative, employees are frustrated by the freeze in base pay.
“Certainly it’s nice to get the bonus, and we all appreciated the bonus and are pleased to get it, but all of us, particularly the lower paid employees, would certainly benefit from a higher salary,” said Hal Irvin, Tech’s associate vice president of human resources.
“It’s been a long time since we got an increase and it’s been a really difficult thing for everybody,” he said. “You still have the bills to pay and your living expenses and they’re just not getting the salary increases.”
The General Assembly has proposed another bonus if the state meets more budget goals this year in addition to a salary increase, according to Irvin.
The proposal will give salaried employees a two percent raise beginning in July.
However, there is another proposal for state employees to start paying into the Virginia Retirement System, used by approximately one-third, or 1,000, of Tech’s faculty. Currently the state pays both the “employer” and “employee” shares of the pension payments.
If both measures pass, some faculty and staff may see a net loss in their paychecks, according to Mike Ellerbrock, faculty senate president.
“The Faculty Senate’s attitude is that philosophically the state is reneging on its commitment to state employees and faculty,” he said.
“We commit our lives and careers here and they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Ellerbrock said. “They’re giving us a bonus at the same time (they might) force us to pay more into our retirement accounts.”