UW-Madison Staff Question

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UW-Madison Staff Question

Postby barney » Tue May 08, 2012 7:24 pm

Question for those of you in the know:
Given both the current climate and pending changes,
Would you switch from a classified staff position to academic staff? What about vice versa?

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Re: UW-Madison Staff Question

Postby rabble » Tue May 08, 2012 8:02 pm

I assume we're talking about the push to try and simplify a really complicated system whose lines have grown a bit fuzzy in the last few decades? I've heard they'd like to meld the classified and academic positions and just make everybody UW staff.

I've also been hearing that, to avoid a wholesale exodus and because they'd probably get their asses handed to them in court (and also because it's the right thing to do), they plan to not take away anything you've already got or been promised. It would be oriented to new hires.

So, if'n I was young enough to wonder what would be good for my long term future, based on what I've heard, whichever I was, I'd stay put. Everything else being equal.

If I was trying to transfer out of my current spot I think classified vs academic would be pretty far down the list of why I want that other job.

That's what I heard. At a bar. At the next table. Not from a credible source.

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Re: UW-Madison Staff Question

Postby Detritus » Tue May 08, 2012 10:45 pm

There are a number of problems with the current system. One is just the sheer number of categories of employee--I don't mean job title (which is verging on the astronomical), just broad category. Each category enjoys its own set of rules for payroll handling, timesheet reporting, vacation accrual, etc. When Doyle, in his infinite wisdom, forced the furloughs on the university, it took months to work out the implications on the 17 major categories of employee based on classified, classified (non-represented), academic staff, faculty, student, and then sub-categories within that. The HR and payroll people I know say that more money was spent figuring out how to comply with the furloughs than was saved which, I believe, Doyle was warned would happen.

The second problem is that quite a few jobs do not clearly fall into classified or academic staff. It's not that unusual in some units to have two people doing the same jobs, one classified and the other academic staff. That means the two people get different pay, different benefits, have different grievance procedures, different work rules, and different paths to promotion. This can make for problems between staff members.

The third problem is that the classified staff are part of the state system, but academic staff are not. Classified staff can transfer to any state job anywhere in the state for which they are qualified, and if they want to transfer because their current position has been eliminated (say, due to massive budget cuts), and there is a job somewhere they like held by a classified person with less seniority, they have the right to "bump" existing that person out of their job. At the university, that translates to the fear (on the part of supervisors, primarily) that they will lose the person they like without warning, and the replacement will not know a thing about how a university works--how to deal with faculty, students, and parents, how to navigate the home-grown systems, and so forth. Academic staff, on the other hand, can only move around by applying for open positions, which may or may not be truly open.

Academic staff, on the other hand, have much more flexible routes to promotion and advancement than classified staff. No exams, no union rules. At the upper levels of academic staff, people with Ph.D.s and a reasonable chance at competing for tenure can make the transition from staff to faculty. They can rise to levels of responsibility within the university that classified staff will never reach. The pay is often better than classified, or at least it is conceived of as salary (most classified technically are paid an hourly rate), they also have little job security, especially if they're funded on research or program grants, so with freedom and opportunity comes risk.

Moving from classified staff to academic staff, if the person has the right qualifications, is not difficult, but it means giving up union representation and the job security of the classified system. Moving from academic staff to classified is actually harder, since it requires taking a series of exams and establishing seniority. I have certainly heard of people going from classified to academic, but I have never heard of the opposite happening.

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