Preserving Quality Research at the University of California
1 "UC Faculty Ranked High in Scholarly Publications," University of California, Office of the President News, Nov. 3, 1998. (Available at http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/commserv/ucquoted.html.) The survey was conducted by the Philadelphia-based Institute for Scientific Information. The Institute analyzed how often professors' research papers were cited in a total of 21 fields from 1993-97.
2 These budget figures do not include the three national laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Los Alamos) that UC operates for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These national labs were funded at 2.5 billion in FY 1996-97.
3 "Current Funds Expenditures by Uniform Classification Category by Fund Source, 1996-97," Schedule 11-D. (Available at http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/cao/reports/1997/cond97.pdf).
4 "Campus Financial Schedules-Schedule B, Current Fund Expenditures by Uniform Classification Category." (Available at http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/cao/reports/1997/finschframe.htm.).
5 The research support professional unit does not include Lawrence Livermore or Los Alamos staff, who are considered UC employees but are classified separately. The affairs of those labs are not addressed in this paper, although they are equally deserving of investigation and public monitoring on the same issues we discuss in this paper.
6 UPTE/CWA calculation is based on analysis of UC employee databases at San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Davis campuses. These four campuses employ 77 percent of the research professional unit. To determine annual turnover rates, we compared the employee database for each year from 1994 through 1997 to the employee database for the prior year. On average, 33 percent of the research professional employees left the university in each of those years.
7 UPTE/CWA calculation using the following methodology. 1) We calculated the average SRA salary at the four largest research campuses, which together employ 77 percent of all researchers. We based our calculation on a June 1997 employee database provided by the University of California, "SRA Demographics and Salary," UC Program ID SR 13493D, June 1997 ("SRA Employee Database"). 2) For non-UC researcher salary figures, we used the following regional sections of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Surveys: Sacramento-Yolo Consolidated Metropolitan Area, March 1997. Bulletin 3090-09. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County Metropolitan Area, Jan. 1997. Bulletin 3090-11. San Diego Metropolitan Area, Nov. 1997. Bulletin 2090-36. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Consolidated Metropolitan Area. Jan. 1997. Bulletin 3090-5. For Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego, we used the BLS job classification of "natural scientist"; for San Francisco, we used the classification of "scientist," since the BLS survey for the San Francisco region did not have separate data for natural scientists. The San Francisco survey classified four levels of scientist, which we compared to four SRA levels. For each of the four regions, we used data from Table A-1, "Hourly Earnings for Selected Occupations, all workers, all industries" multiplied by 2,080 hours to get an annual salary. (This is the most conservative methodology, since this data includes full-time and part-time workers.) The data for Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego are available at http://www.bls.gov/special.requests/ocwc/oclt/ncsocs/ncs.
8 SRA Employee Database, op. cit. and BLS National Compensation Survey, Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County Metropolitan Area, Jan. 1997. Bulletin 3090-11.
9 SRA Employee Database, op. cit. and BLS Compensation Survey, San Diego Metropolitan Area, Nov. 1997. Bulletin 2090-36.
10 SRA Employee Database, op. cit. and BLS Compensation Survey, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Consolidated Area. Jan. 1997. Bulletin 3090-5.
11 SRA Employee Database, op. cit. and BLS Compensation Survey, Sacramento-Yolo Consolidated Metropolitan Area, March 1997. Bulletin 3090-09.
12 SRA I's also receive a merit-based step increase that tops out after five years for those employees who have consistently received a "satisfactory" rating. Since the step increase is considered remuneration for increased productivity commensurate with increased experience, it should not be considered a base wage increase designed to adjust salaries for changes in the cost of living and external labor market.
13 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CPI-U, Western Region.
14 The University periodically raises the start rate in the SRA II-IV wage schedule (known as the "range adjustment"), but this has no impact on incumbent SRA II-IVs.
15 June 1997 UC Employee Database, op cit. The analysis also found that among those with 4-7 years experience, 77 percent had not reached the midpoint. Among those with 8-11 years experience, 66 percent had not yet reached the salary midpoint. It takes a full 19 years for typical SRA II or SRA III to reach the fourth salary quartile range.
16 The 25 percent wage differential divided by the 13 years that it takes to reach that wage differential = 1.9 percent annual increase.
17 UCLA Merit Pay Guideline.
18 Personnel Policies for Staff Members, Oakland, CA: University of California, 1996, p.6.
19 June 1997 UC Employee Database, op. cit.
21 Over the past few years, UC's Office of the President has been floating proposals to create "term positions" or "project positions" whereby employees would be hired to work for a specified period, for example, to serve a three-year grant-funded research program. Such proposals are not well suited to the research environment in which a SRA hired for one program may later be re-assigned to work simultaneously on two or three other projects. PIs and SRAs tend to develop close working relationships, and the PI wants to keep good SRAs to serve on project after project. It conflicts directly with the objectives of staff retention and continuity: good science progresses by building upon prior learning and discoveries, not by starting from scratch every three years.
22 The calculation is as follows: .02 (salary increase differential) x $35,540 average annual salary x 3,800 research professionals x 6 years = $16,206,240. The basis for our 2 percent salary increase differential is discussed in detail below.
23 NIH Policy Office. NIH grants awarded in fiscal year 1997-98 had a three percent escalator.
24 We do not include the merit-based step increases in the calculation for two reasons. First, SRA Is who have reached the top of the step progression (typically after five years) do not receive a step increase. Second, the high turnover rates among SRA I's (33 percent) mean that the University compensates for any cost of merit-based step increases with the lower-cost of hiring new employees at the bottom of the wage progression. UPTE/CWA analysis of the UC employee databases for 1997 indicates that only 1/3 of the unit has reached the top of the progression, providing further evidence that there is a constant churn among SRA I employees.
25 As discussed earlier, it takes 13 years for the majority of SRA grades II and III to reach salary midpoint, which is 25 percent above the starting wage rate. 25 percent/13 years equals 1.9 percent average wage increase per year.
26 This is a conservative estimate of the impact on payroll of an average 1.9 percent annual wage increase. With a 33 percent annual turnover rate, it is highly probable that total payroll does not increase, as higher paid employees are replaced by new hires at the start of the pay range.
27 The control figure for each of these years was FY 1991-92: 0%; FY 1992-93: 2.4%; FY 1993-94: 2% FY 1994-95: 3.5%; FY 1995-96: 3.5%; and FY 1996-97: 4%. Compounded over the six-year period this totals 16.4%. This again is a conservative estimate. As noted in footnote 26 above, it is highly probable that the high turnover rate means that merit increases do not increase total payroll, as higher paid employees are replaced by new hires at the start of the pay range.
28 The University has repeatedly refused to provide UPTE/CWA time series payroll data on the professional researcher unit. The University must be held publicly accountable for these taxpayer funds.
29 The University has repeatedly refused to provide UPTE/CWA time series payroll data on the professional researcher unit. The University must be held publicly accountable for these taxpayer funds.