Wage freezes coming to end at Tri-City colleges

August 31, 2013 

New WSU Tri-Cities chancellor feature

The new Washington State University Tri-Cities chancellor, H. Keith Moo-Young, seen here with his wife Monika, is the second highest-paid Tri-City public official. His current base salary is $300,000, up $75,000 from what his predecessor was paid in 2011-12.


Columbia Basin College’s full-time faculty and nonunion employees are getting their first wage increase in five years starting today.

The 3 percent increase, affecting about 170 CBC workers, was made possible because of funds the state Legislature added back to the school’s budget after requiring salary cuts last year.

CBC chose to meet salary cut requirements for faculty and nonunion staff by eliminating vacant positions and other cost-saving measures, said Rich Cummins, president of the Pasco college.

Classified employees did experience a pay cut, but their pay was recently restored, he said.

The annual starting salaries full-time CBC faculty make have remained at $45,000 and $48,000, depending on experience and program since 2007, he said.

Cummins’ annual base salary has remained at $195,000, the same since he reached the third year of his first contract in 2011.

Although voters approved an automatic cost-of-living adjustment for community college teachers in 2000, that initiative has been voided by the state Legislature for budget reasons, Cummins said. There also has been no funding for promotion raises.

Similarly, a wage freeze has been in effect at Washington State University Tri-Cities for faculty and professional staff since 2008 because of state budget cuts, said spokeswoman Melissa O’Neil Perdue. That means no change to base salaries and no raises for current employees.

Current WSU Tri-Cities staff have taken on extra responsibilities as enrollment has continued to grow since freshmen were first admitted in fall 2007, Perdue said. There have been some strategic hires to support the growth.

While there has been no change by the state Legislature, WSU President Elson Floyd wrote in a July memo that the university plans to self-fund a 4 percent increase for faculty and administrative staff starting Jan. 1, 2014.

A common misconception is that college employees get state pensions, Cummins said. In reality, few do. Only six CBC employees have worked at the college long enough — more than 35 years — to be in on the state’s old pension system. Everyone else has the public equivalent of a 401(k), he said.

CBC has downsized in the past five years, Cummins said. Remaining faculty have taken on larger class sizes and taught more courses.

At the same time, enrollment has grown and bachelor’s programs have been added, making CBC the state’s 12th-largest community college, he said.

This year, CBC will be able to hire some staff to replace recent retirees and add new positions made necessary by growth, Cummins said.

CBC’s employees have all pitched in to make sure the college meets its mission by offering what is best for students and educating as many Tri-Citians as possible, he said.

CBC’s employees do not get the remuneration they could if they worked for a private college, Cummins said.

But, “You know the truism, you don’t go into education for the money,” he said.

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