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Thanks … I think

September 14, 2007

Today I unexpectedly received the following letter via campus mail:

Craig Crowther
Research Scientist 3
Box 357185

Re: Merit Increase

Your current salary when compared to the market minimum was found to be below the minimum; therefore your new full-time salary, effective September 1, 2007, will be $X,XXX per month, to bring you up to the minimum level.

Congratulations and thank you for your outstanding contributions to the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

My reactions, at the risk of sounding severely ungrateful:

(1) Assurances that you’re a valued member of the department are less convincing if they don’t know your name.

(2) If my contributions are indeed “outstanding,” why am I being compensated at the “minimum level”? What would my pay be if my work were merely great?

(3) In what sense is this considered a “Merit Increase”? Does “merit” simply refer to a willingness to continue showing up for work despite low wages?

5 comments

  1. While the name thing is definitely a coffee stain I took the 'below market minimum' to refer to the market for outstanding employees – not the general market for any ol' employee.Or perhaps you went from 'great' to 'outstanding' therefore caused yourself to go from median to below minimum. Luckily they checked!Oh, just take the $.Congrats your recent race btw.


  2. Greg,If you're a government employee; or have your compensation set in correspondence w/govt pay scales – that's the reality. There's not a competitive market out there.In industry; if you're good, you can leverage it into better positions/higher pay – if you can play it right. Why? Because its a competitive venue; where companies will pay for performance.


  3. My last job was at 10.50 per hour with no raises for three years. After I left, the news clerks were judged to be paid below the "going rate" and had their pay raised.Dad


  4. Craig, er, Greg-That's the U for ya. Especially Allergy @ Inf Dis. My old boss (in that dept) had a habit of reminding me how expensive I was. I told her I could earn 2x as much (at least) in private industry. She ran out of money (probably due to my expensive salary), and I got laid off. Now I'm back at the U, different boss/lab, albeit with less pay (my choice- 80% time) and private industry ain't lookin' so good, with all the cutbacks. They have us by the short hairs, but I'm happy to have a job right now (and I like my lab, to boot). Oh, and I've been at UW since 1990. I keep getting "welcome to the UW" stuff in my campus mail! I was only laid off for 3 months! How soon they forget you when you're gone; no wonder they can't get your name right.Congrats on your race! Great job and great report!


  5. Laura: For the record, my current bosses (as well as my previous ones in other departments) have both been great. The letter I received was from some departmental staff person I've never met. Since she apparently controls my salary, though, I suppose I should stop composing nasty blog entries about her.



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