USF May Give Staff Bonuses to Offset State Reduction

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TAMPA (6-20-11) -

Administrators at the University of South Florida are considering giving their faculty and staff up to a three percent bonus to offset a reduction in pay ordered by the state legislature and Governor Rick Scott.

Under the plan announced last week by University President Judy Genshaft, USF staff who receive benefits will get up to a three percent lump sum bonus based upon their performance. Faculty, who already are scheduled to receive a two percent merit-based increase, would receive an additional one percent performance-based lump sum bonus.

University Vice President for Communications Michael Hoad says the plan is necessary to try and keep employees.

"What the President did is send a message that says we're going to work hard to ensure that staff and faculty get bonuses and base increases that help," said Hoad. "What we're trying to do is push up the amounts so that they're meaningful amounts given the reductions that the state imposed."

The decision to add these bonuses comes even as the USF System faces a shortfall of more than 25 million dollars due to legislative cuts to its budget.

"So this is going to be very hard to do," Hoad added. "We're going to have to set aside money that in theory would have gone to something else. It's important though because staff, lower-level staff, will be hurt badly by the state cuts and we're concerned that faculty in particular will not see Florida and USF as a place to build their careers."

While supporters call the three percent reduction in pay a contribution to the state's pension plan, opponents view it as a pay cut since the money will go into general funds instead of the retirement system.

The move came even as a number of state unions fired their first salvo against the reduction. The Florida Education Association was quickly joined by both the SEIU Florida Public Service Union and the Police Benevolent Association in a lawsuit that claimed the state violated its contractual obligation to workers with the reduction.

The plan needs to be approved by staff and faculty negotiators, as well as University Trustees, but the hope is staff would receive their payout by the end of July, faculty shortly after the fall semester starts.

WUSF 89.7 will have more on the effect the pension plan will have on both the USF System and its employees on next week's University Beat.

Note: WUSF Public Media is licensed to the University of South Florida, and all employees of WUSF Public Media, including WUSF 89.7 News staff, are classified as state employees.

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