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Vol. 51, No.2 March 22, 2010
Why HEOs are the Underclass of the PSC
Hit where it Hurts the Most
As was pointed out in part one, the HEOs have been deliberately under supported and marginalized throughout their existence by the faculty leadership of the PSC. This in and of itself would not be so bad if the faculty leadership were truly attempting to understand and effectively advocate on behalf of the HEOs. But are they really doing this?
One way to draw conclusions about how the faculty union leadership has advocated for the HEOs is to look at the HEO salaries.
Equal Pay does not mean Fair Pay
Most HEO ranks and scales are for all practical purposes exactly the same as the faculty ranks and pay scales. HEO Assistant and Assistant Professor pay scales are identical, as are Associate HEO and Associate Professor, and Full professor with Full HEO. But the big question is this; why are they the same? What is the reasoning behind this, and is it in fact valid?
The basic assumption driving this is that somehow one size fits all; that HEO administrative jobs are somehow essentially equivalent in responsibility and function with faculty teaching positions and therefore should be rewarded according to the same pay scale. It also assumes that the scope of HEO job functions would never be greater than what would be expected from a standard faculty position.
Clearly, these assumptions can easily be proven to be untrue.
To begin with, ALL HEO job titles differ from faculty positions in this essential way; HEO jobs are based on a 12 month calendar year, whereas the faculty only works 9 months. So while a HEO and a faculty member might collect the same salary, they are not in fact paid the same, as the HEO has to work 3 months longer to earn the same amount of money. So in real hourly terms, HEOs earn $.75 on the dollar per hour compared to full time faculty members that are paid the same amount of money. This essentially says that the value of the work done by HEOs in most cases is less than the value of the work done by faculty. The work that faculty does is almost always considered to be more important, and any notion that the solidarity of “equal” salary scales means equality is patently false.
The HEO job classifications and the faculty style salary structures also have little or no real connection to what the HEOs actually do, or the wide variety of job functions and responsibilities they hold. For example, an associate professor usually has a reasonably well defined and generally accepted job description revolving around teaching, research, and other academic pursuits. A HEO Associate, however, could have any one of dozens of unique jobs within the system that may require specialized training or other expertise; Financial Aid Work Study manager, Office Manager for a Division, financial accounting associate, Health and Safety Officer, Payroll director, special projects manager, Operations supervisor, Campus photographer, Security Director, Human Resources Benefits officer, Contracts Manager, Bursar, Associate Athletic Director, Budget Manager, Public Relations Editor, Deputy to a Vice President, etc.
Some HEO jobs are so crucial that a College could quite literally cease to function if those duties were not performed; duties that often involve safe guarding extremely sensitive information, managing the millions of dollars of assets, protecting the health and safety of the community, or ensuring adherence to and oversight of all applicable state and federal regulations.
Many HEO positions also incorporate a supervisory component that is all but nonexistent in most standard faculty positions. HEOs can supervise Work Study Students, College Assistants, Civil Service Personnel, CLTs, or other HEOs. Some HEOs have all these job titles to supervise.
The most problematic aspect of the HEOs being bound to faculty style titles and pay scales is promotion. Faculty titles were established from the very beginning to be promotable, while the HEOs are not. This means that there are two very different standards for attaining a higher title. For the faculty, promotion revolves around accomplishing a minimum number of defined tasks, and the overall emphasis is on quality. “Is the work good enough?” is the essential question to be answered.
For the HEOs, the situation is much different. In order to be reclassified to a higher job title, approval is based on whether “the preponderance of duties and job requirements currently fall appropriately in the higher HEO title being sought” because of “a significant alteration in the duties previously assigned”.
So the criteria for HEO promotion is not the quality of their work, but , “How many more new job duties are you doing?” This leads to a more important question; what exactly constitutes an “appropriate” change in job duties? Supervising 2 more people? 10 more people? Handling bigger budgets? Because of the large number of different kinds of jobs that HEOs hold, there are many ways a HEO job can change over time, either abruptly or incrementally, and yet may not provide any official basis for a title change.
This renders the whole promotion process arbitrary to a greater or lesser degree, often making it very difficult to get reclassified.
Moreover, the current system generally only allows for limited promotions and raises within the structure, no matter how much the job duties have changed. For example, a HEO Assistant could take on the same number of job duties as a Full HEO, yet would only receive reclassification to HEO Associate with the standard 2 step increase. This only serves to create further inequities in salary for HEOs.
Lastly, probably the most significant salary issue is the number of HEOs who remain at the top salary step for years, and in some instances even for decades. That the union leadership has never seen fit to announce how many people are stuck in this situation is very telling. Sooner or later, every HEO gets to the top step .In many cases it is the most reliable, responsible and exceptional HEOs who end up in this situation, people who have devoted their entire working lives to making CUNY what it is today. It is frankly shameful that they are trapped in this position with little or no way to have their salaries adjusted so that they are paid based on their true contributions to the University. The current HEO salary system, therefore, punishes longevity and meritorious service. It is commonly known that the only way for a HEO to truly be paid fairly is to get a job somewhere else.
When the union management is confronted on its failure to support the HEOs, they usually respond with a list of great accomplishments they have obtained; a salary step here, $1000 there, some money for professional development. These token items are meant to be a distraction and a form of appeasement to keep the HEOs convinced that the faculty union leadership does actually fight for HEO interests. Yet when the New Caucus leaders are asked, “when are you going to address the serious HEO economic inequities that you have so far allowed to persist in every contract?” Their answer has always been this, in true Brooklyn Dodgers fashion; “wait until the next contract.”
Clearly, the New Caucus union leadership has no intention of ever doing anything to address the real HEO issues, and furthermore, they have deliberately rigged the union organization to keep the HEOs themselves from having any voice or self determination within the union they pay for.
Ultimately, this means that the HEOs are PSC members in name only, and are not treated by the New Caucus leadership as real union members that share solidarity and equality with the faculty. Instead, the HEOs are subjects to be ruled.
It is very likely that as long as the HEOs are members of a PSC that is completely controlled by the New Caucus, they will continue to be ignored, marginalized, oppressed, and will perpetually hold minority status as a permanent underclass.
It all leads to this question; What is the point of paying dues and belonging to a union run by a New Caucus leadership that has no interest in EVER doing anything to legitimately improve HEO working conditions?
STATEMENT FROM MARK E. JAKUBIK AND MEYER SILBER, COUNSEL TO SHARAD KARKHANIS, CONCERNING THE SETTLEMENT OF
O'MALLEY vs. KARKHANIS
Several months ago, Sharad Karkhanis, the publisher of this newsletter, agreed to settle the lawsuit that Professor Susan O'Malley filed against him based upon certain material published in The Patriot Returns on various occasions. The statement published elsewhere in this issue is a part of the agreed upon settlement. The merits of Dr. O'Malley's claims have been the subject of extensive discussion in the community. Our views on the merits of the claims can, we believe, be fairly inferred from the pleadings that we filed on Sharad's behalf in the lawsuit, and we will not comment on that aspect of the case any further. We believe, however, that certain facts concerning this settlement should be fully understood by those interested in the outcome of this matter.
First, as noted in the publisher's statement, the settlement did not involve an admission of liability or wrongdoing by Dr. Karkhanis. To the contrary, as is clearly iterated in the statement, we continue to believe that none of the material published in The Patriot Returns that was at issue in the lawsuit was defamatory or otherwise actionable for any reason. Second, there is no financial aspect to the settlement, and Dr. Karkhanis is not required to make any payment whatsoever to Dr. O'Malley or anyone else. Third, Dr. Karkhanis remains free to publish The Patriot Returns without prior restraint. In sum, we believe that, given the terms upon which Dr. Karkhanis agreed to resolve this matter, the settlement represents a significant victory for free speech and academic freedom, and The Patriot Returns will continue to stand as an unabashed defender of those values.
It has been our pleasure and our privilege to serve as counsel to Dr. Karkhanis in this matter. He is, by any measure and by any standard, a true gentleman and a patriot. The CUNY community would without doubt benefit if there were more in its ranks who shared his love for truth and freedom.
Mark E. Jakubik
The Silber Law Firm, LLC
We do not believe Professor Susan O'Malley to be a terrorist, and deeply regret if she, or any of her associates, understood us to have labeled her as such. We are sorry if anything published in “The Patriot Returns” has been interpreted in such a way. We do not believe that anything published in The Patriot Returns has exceeded the bounds of permissible speech, but express our profound sorrow if Dr. O'Malley sustained any damage to her reputation or suffered any emotional pain or suffering as a result of these statements.
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.