After spending 85 percent of its staff wages budget by halfway through the semester, the Associated Students of Pomona College recently made changes to its Senate staff structure: the majority of Senate staff will no longer be paid for meeting hours, and overtime hours will not be compensated, according to an email sent by Chief of Staff Miguel Delgado PO ’20 to the body
In the email, Delgado stated that weekly Senate staff meeting attendance will no longer be required except for five staff members: chief of staff, director of public relations, director of disability and mental health advocacy, product manager, and lead software engineer. Other Senate staff are still encouraged to attend meetings, but they will no longer be paid for the duration of the meetings.
Staff meetings will also be shortened from one hour to half an hour on Mondays from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
A current Senate staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, specified that although they were “asked not to come to staff and Senate meetings in order to prevent further depletion of the staff wages budget,” they were not fired.
“My pay in the past has included meeting hours, and my role now is more independent,” they said. “My pay now will likely decrease, but that is dependent on the projects assigned to me.”
The over-spending of staff wages budget has come to the ASPC office’s attention, and the Senate was informed of this situation last Wednesday. However, Delgado said that the Senate has had access to this information throughout the year, but due to the independent work culture of the Senate staff, the Senate didn't recognize the problem until recently.
“The culture of Senate staff is very much independent work; we meet weekly and discuss our projects,” Delgado said. “[My] position of chief of staff is new this year, so there’s a lot of figuring out. But as far as managing the money and keeping track of hours … that’s not what we do.”
The wage budget was granted by the ASPC Office and approved by the 2016-17 ASPC president and executive vice president last May. It was calculated to afford the predetermined 14 Senate staff members. The budget is separate from the stipends offered to ASPC senators and is only distributed to Senate staff who are paid on an hourly basis.
However, the process of logging hours into the Pomona timekeeping system, Kronos, is based on an honor system, which raises questions about whether this process should be more restricted in the future. Senate staff log their hours depending on the hours they have worked and were paid on an increased overtime wage rate if their work hours exceed their fixed weekly hours limit.
According to the final budget sheet posted on ASPC’s website, the fall semester’s wage budget for the 14 Senate staff members is $13,680, but only about $2,000 remains.
Delgado wrote that the changes will hopefully reduce the hours that senators and Senate staff spend during meetings and help transfer communications to digital platforms such as email, Facebook Messenger, or Slack. However, he says that since this issue has “now come to our attention, we’re definitely going to readjust and restructure [Senate staff] for the rest of the semester and next semester.”
Another Senate staff member, who also spoke anonymously, said that because of a lack of communication, it was very easy for things to go wrong.
“There is a divide between the people in ASPC this year who have experience and those [who] don’t,” they said. “They don’t really seem to want to talk to each other, people who are experienced are willing to help, but those [who] aren’t as experienced aren’t willing to listen.”
The staffer also clamied that there have been cases of Senate bylaws violations, such as new Senate staff members being paid before their hirings were approved by the Senate, and Senate staff members being removed from their positions by the executive board without a vote from the Senate.
“These are minor procedural things. They seem small in the eyes of the inexperienced, but they can turn into something very major,” they said.
Although the key causes to the wage budget’s overspending are yet to be determined by the Senate, Delgado mentioned that the hourly wage for Senate staff is raised this year from minimum wage to $15 an hour, a change that can cause overspending.
This is a developing story, and will be updated as more information becomes available.