For many contracts over the years, PSU had made a decision to try close a wide gap in salaries between our highest and lowest paid members. This is done by having raises in only one out of three years in a contract be a flat rate versus a percentage.
We do this because our bargaining unit has a very wide range of jobs and pay. At Boston, we have full-time members earning about $33,000 a year and others earning more than $136,000 a year. Amherst has similar ranges. With this gap, a percentage raise exacerbates the wage disparity — a 2 percent raise for our lowest paid member is only $660, while it is $2,720 for our highest paid member. A flat rate raise means that the pool of money for a particular year’s raises is evenly divided by the number of members. In our most recent contract, the equal dollar increase came to $1,409.72 or $55.22 per pay period for every member.
The bargaining team’s job is to represent the whole bargaining unit and the team has adopted the practice of having one of our raises distributed as an equal dollar raise. This gives a little boost to the majority of our members who earn below the medium pay in our bargaining unit. The other two raises in our contract are distributed as a straight percentage of pay.
Members of the bargaining committee, who are united in allocating raises for one year on a flat rate basis, believe this is a small step that helps more than half of our members, without unduly hurting the higher paid members. It's akin to the concept of progressive taxation where our income taxes are based on those who earn less have a lower percentage, while those who earn more pay a higher percentage.