June 22, 2017
As another academic year comes to a close, we write to summarize the Employee Council’s efforts. As described in our welcome email from the fall, the Employee Council (EC) prepared for a busy year. We are pleased to report progress on a number of fronts:
Public Presence: The EC strove to be a more publicly active, visible, and accountable committee this year:
- Revised website
- Improved circulation of meeting minutes
- Created a Facebook page (Follow us!)
- Renewed connections with other committees/constituencies
- Instituted Coffee Hours in Frost Café
- Created the EC’s first public Platform
Climate Survey: For some years the EC has been asking for a staff climate survey as a routine institutional tool for assessing staff concerns and well-being at Amherst. A survey is planned for this fall, and the EC heartily encourages all staff to participate.
Retirement: Three years ago a constituent contacted his representative to ask the EC to review the college’s retirement contribution policy. Thus began three years of research and discussion, within the EC itself and between the EC and HR, the faculty-led Committee on Priority and Resources (CPR), and the college’s Benefits Committee. That collaborative effort resulted in a more generous policy, with additional gains targeted primarily at lower income employees.
Casuals: From year to year, the EC routinely receives constituent concerns about casual employees at Amherst. This year the council began researching how casual employment at Amherst compares to our peers. We learned that Amherst is a bit out of step. While casuals compose anywhere from 13 to 23% of our peers’ respective workforces, Amherst's is just shy of 35%. Moreover, we have a sizeable number of casuals on campus who fall outside of the college's own definition of what qualifies a position as legitimately casual. Thus, the EC has submitted a recommendation that asks the college to define an additional category of employment for long-term casual employees, a category that is accompanied with a concrete timeline to convert them to regular employees. We’ve also proposed a number of low-cost recommendations intended to address morale and inclusion concerns for casuals (e.g., access to the gym, regular computer upgrades, use of IDs in Valentine, and real parking stickers). We look forward to continuing our work on this issue next year.
Thank you for your ongoing support and please do contact us if you have comments, suggestions, or questions.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge departing council members. Jessica Gifford, Denise McGoldrick, Ramon Rodriguez, and Paul Sorrentino – thank you for your service and your time. We will miss you next year!
Happy summer everyone,
The 2016-17 Employee Council:
Joshua Baum, Information Technology, Co-Chair
K.M. Carley (“Carley”), Frost Library, CPR Committee
Katherine Duke, Office of Communications, Elections Chair
Cindy Dumais-Holubowich, Religious & Spiritual Life, Note Taker
Mary Foulk, Advancement, HR Working Group
Liz Gallinaro, Facilities, HR Working Group
Jessica Gifford, Health Education, Diversity Task Force
Malou Hafner, Advancement, HR Working Group
Denise McGoldrick, Health Education, CPR/Elections/Recognition
Doralinda Puente, Dining Services, Events Chair, Elections
Ramon Rodríguez, Custodial Services, HR Working Group
Tracie Rubeck, History, Chair
Paul Sorrentino, Religious & Spiritual Life, HR Working Group Chair