In Response to Maine Heritage Policy Center Article

On October 12, the Maine Heritage Policy Center issued a report on compensation in the University of Maine System.  You can read it online at:

http://www.mainepolicy.org/2011/10/university-of-maine-payroll-and-spending-data-updated-on-maineopengov-org/

By emphasizing large numbers taken out of context, the MHPC report gives the impression that UMS employees were somehow misusing hard-earned tax and tuition dollars.

ACSUM President Tim Pinkham replied in the following letter to the editor, printed in the Bangor Daily News on October 29/30, 2011:

Scapegoated workers

The Oct. 12 BDN reports that University of Maine System employee pay and benefits increased 29 percent between 2002 and 2010. The same article highlighted salaries of over $100,000 and seemed to imply that university system workers were getting rich at the expense of taxpayers and tuition-payers.

For the 800-odd unionized clerical, office, laboratory and technical (COLT) employees who work at University campuses, University College centers and Cooperative Extension offices across the state, this is simply not true.

Between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2011, COLT employees received negotiated cost of living raises averaging 1.6 percent per year and totaling 16.3 percent, which almost brought total wage increases up to the overall rate of inflation of 26 percent for this period.

COLT employees see to it that bills get paid and students get registered. We work in libraries, bookstores and offices of all kinds. We monitor scientific experiments that bring in millions of dollars in grant funding. We unravel red tape for students and faculty. We are essential to university system functioning.

We are highly skilled. We are not highly paid. Our median annual earnings are about $27,000. The university’s own studies show that many of us are paid at below-market rates.

What the article might have said more accurately is that over the past decade hundreds of hardworking, modestly paid men and women who work for the university system fell a little short in the effort to keep up with increases in the cost of living.

Timothy Pinkham

State president, ACSUM

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