Published: Jan. 22, 2016
Campus view, Kelly Fox, M. Scott Morris

In recent months a debate about wages has begun across the United States. Colorado and CU-Boulder have not been exempted from this debate. Questions have been appropriately raised about our pay structures and the cost of living in our communities. We used these questions as an opportunity to carefully review our pay practices, the market value of work performed and the total rewards of working at the University of Colorado.

In October, we committed to conducting an extensive compensation analysis. This is a complex issue that can affect many employees, but because there are limits to our financial resources, and because we know that those who earn the least are most positively impacted by even modest increases, we chose to focus on individuals working at CU-Boulder who earn less than $15 per hour.

Of CU-Boulder’s nearly 4,000 staff members, about 500 earn less than $15 per hour. We considered the fair market value of the work being performed, as assessed in salary surveys conducted by independent, third-party providers. And because it is reasonable to assume those who are more experienced should earn more than those who are newer in a position, we considered the time that each of the individuals had been in his or her role.

We found salary compression in 13 job classifications, including various levels of custodians, dining services employees and others. Salary compression occurs when the pay of one or more employees is very close to the pay of more experienced employees in the same job. We also found differences in current wages and market-expected wages. We examined factors that likely contributed to the differences, such as the freeze on wages imposed by the state in 2007.

As a result of these efforts, we are pleased to announce that we are authorizing salary increases for jobs reviewed where wages are significantly below current market rates. Next week, each affected employee will receive a personalized letter communicating the size of his or her increase. The increases are designed to ensure that each individual is compensated appropriately compared to the market data and with consideration to their actual time in their respective position. This means that the size of affected employees' increases will naturally vary.

We are investing substantial funds in these wage increases. But our total investment goes beyond wage increases. We are strongly committed to supporting each member of our community who through hard work and education seeks to increase their abilities to rise to higher levels of responsibility and pay. Consequently we will also be investing in professional development programs and removing financial barriers to the development of new skills. This investment includes an on-campus high school equivalency program, an English proficiency program for non-native speakers, and twice-a-year career counseling sessions.

While these programs are intended specifically for our lower wage earners, we are also pleased to announce an expansion of our dependent tuition benefit from 10 percent to 20 percent for all employees. You will hear more details about these programs in the near future.

These efforts represent a beginning. We remain committed to ongoing analysis of wages and to finding additional opportunities to support employee development as we go forward.

Thank you for the work you do that enriches our campus every day.

Kelly Fox
Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer

M. Scott Morris
Chief Human Resources Officer