The Issues Committee shall be comprised of a minimum of five members of the Staff Senate. The duties of the committee shall be to study issues that have been submitted to the Issues Committee by a Texas Tech University staff member, make recommendations back to the Executive Committee regarding handling and disposition of each issue, and notify the author of any action resulting from the committee's study.
Issues Addressed in FY 2019
There have been 34 issues submitted to the Staff Senate in Fiscal Year 2019. All issues have been researched and resolved with the inquiring party.
Some issues have summaries posted below. Each item has a paraphrased and shortened version of the submitted issue to provide context followed by the resolution.
Royalty Fees on Employee Shirts
"Why do we have to pay royalty fees on shirts to wear at work?"
Shirts with a Texas Tech image are typically subject to a royalty fee; however, there is an exception to this rule if the shirt is for employees to wear during their job duties (i.e., shirts with a departmental signature on it). The royalty fees from the vendor were removed before the individuals purchased these shirts. See TTU OP 72.23 Trademark Licensing for more information.
Staff Holidays for Fiscal Year 2019 (Aug. 2018 – July 2019)
"How are staff holidays decided? Why don't we have a holiday during spring break?"
The staff holiday schedule is decided after the academic calendar is finalized.
First, all days that classes are in session are blocked out. Staff must be on campus if classes are in session. Then days are scheduled according to state law Chapter 662 Subchapter A Holidays for State Employees which states the Friday after Thanksgiving and December 24th and 26th must be observed and outlines the other holidays which may be taken if allowed (e.g., Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Day, etc.).
Remaining days are then filled in around Christmas and New Year's to form the Winter Break. Multiple options are often created and sent to the President's office along with TTUHSC and ASU holiday schedules (if available) for review before final approval by the Board of Regents. This year, with Christmas Day falling on a Tuesday, it was decided to give staff one full week off for Winter Break resulting in no days given during Spring Break. Beginning in 2019, the proposed schedules will also be reviewed by the Staff Senate before submission to the President's Office. The TTU OP 70.42 on Holidays has also been revised to include some of the above information.
"Can staff telecommute? ..we are outdated in the way we interpret this as an institution."
Under certain circumstances, staff can request a change of duty point under TTU OP 70.06 Employee Working Hours which requires approval from the President's Office. Staff can also request a flexible work schedule to adjust their working hours to suit their needs. Requests are made to the immediate supervisor and must still meet the requirements of the department or office. More information can be found on the HR FAQ page.
"I stress over parking tickets, why do I have to pay for parking where I work."
Texas Law states that auxiliary enterprises cannot be supported by state funds. Transportation & Parking Services (TPS) and the maintenance and construction of parking lots/structures is an auxiliary enterprise. As a result of this, if an individual is parking on campus, a parking permit fee is obtained to help support the use of the parking resource. TPS does have a First Citation Dismissal Program if students or employees receive a ticket before they are registered or if they park in the wrong area. If an employee needs to travel to multiple buildings for job duties and does not have access to a Texas Tech departmental vehicle, additional permissions to an existing permit can be requested by the supervisor to allow parking in multiple lots. TPS highly encourages employees experiencing difficulties to reach out to them at email@example.com.
Non-Compensable Travel Time for Non-Exempt Employees
"Why don't hourly employees receive overtime when traveling for conferences?"
Human Resources (HR) uses the Fair Labor Standards Act to govern how employees are paid. Time recording issues, such as work schedules during conference travel, are at the discretion of the department and the employee's supervisor. HR does provide the following guidance for non-exempt employee travel for work duties.
- Try to make travel arrangements between the hours of 8AM and 5PM on any day Sunday through Saturday. The travel then counts as your hours worked for the day. Try to travel early in the day to prevent working outside of 8AM-5PM.
- Take a project with you to work on during the downtime of your travel.
- Remember the work week begins on Sunday.
- Departmental discretion should be used when nonexempt employees are traveling to count hours over 40 working hours as overtime (which turns into comp time) or to flex the remainder of the work week to not exceed the 40 hours.
- HR encourages traveling employees to contact them with questions or concerns when travel plans. HR can be reached at 806-742-3851.
ESB II Parking
"Additional parking needed for employees working in the new Experimental Sciences Building (ESB) II opening July 2019. R-2 is already full with employees in ESB I, Mathematics and Wind Center."
There are two R02 parking lots (see Campus Parking Map for details). Prior to the opening of ESB II, Parking Services will contact the potentially affected employees about parking accommodations.
Use of Vacation Time Prior to Six Months of Employment
"I know it's an OP and I'm really just submitting this on behalf of a new team member in our office, but has anyone looked at the policy that prohibits taking accrued vacation for 6 months recently? It seems like a fairly significant limiter to potential employees. Is 6 months typical (I've only ever worked in education)?"
Human Resources was contacted about this issue. The policy outlined in TTU OP 70.45 Vacation Leave comes from state regulations and cannot be changed. If a newly hired employee needs to take leave before six months of employment, they must exhaust their sick pay and then go on leave without pay. They can also apply for sick leave pool if they meet the requirements. If a TTU employee and returns, they do not have to wait the six month period again.
Parking in Bus Loading Zones
"Cars parking in the bus lane at the SUB on a regular basis. This happens often, it blocks traffic when the bus comes because the bus has to pick up people in the middle of the street."
People are instructed to call Transportation & Parking Services (TPS) 742-PARK (7275) anytime they see someone parked in this area. TPS staff will also patrol these areas during high traffic times (drop off and end-of-day). They took a direct approach to speak to individuals parked in these areas in lieu of posting signs.
TPS is also currently reviewing the parking plan for the next few years and there is discussion of creation of some short-term (i.e., 15 minute) parking for dropping off or pick up materials or food from the SUB.
Transfers for Employees Prior to Six Months of Employment
"Transfer accommodations for employees who have conflicts with their supervisors and have been employed less than six months."
Employees with concerns like this should contact Employee Relations in Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions are confidential. This department deals with these submissions often.
"A review system to evaluate ANONYMOUSLY about the performance of our direct supervisors."
All TTU employees, regardless of position, are evaluated by their respective supervisor. For example, the Chancellor is evaluated by the Board of Regents (Regents' Rule 02.03.4), the President is evaluated by the Chancellor in collaboration with the Board of the Regents (Regents' Rule 02.03.4), Vice Presidents and the Provost are evaluated by the President, Vice Chancellors are evaluated by the Provost, faculty are evaluated in accordance with OP 32.32, faculty with administrative appointments are evaluated in accordance with OP 32.03, etc.
However, from the response provided, it appears the reporter is seeking solutions to address workplace concerns with administrators and supervisors. Texas Tech University is committed to ensuring employees have a professional environment in which to work; however, we recognize concerns in the workplace arise from time-to-time. Texas Tech University offers a variety of resources to help resolve issues, maintain a productive and professional working environment, and ensure that federal and state laws and university policies are followed. Some of the resources available include:
- TTU OP 70.10: Non-faculty Employee Complaint Procedures. This policy provides employees a process to express concerns of disagreement pertaining to wages, hours, working conditions, performance evaluations, merit raises, job promotions, job assignments, or similar matters involving management decisions concerning the employee.
- TTU OP 40.02: Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure for Violations of Employment and Other Laws. This policy provides employees a process to address concerns in the event they believe their rights under federal and state employment laws and regulations have been violated.
- TTU OP 40.03: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct, and Title IX Policy and Complaint Procedure. This policy provides employees and students with their rights and options and also explains how the university will proceed once it is made aware of allegations of prohibited conduct in keeping with the university's values and in order to meet the legal obligations of Title VII, Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, Texas Education Code, Section 51.9363, and other applicable laws.
- TTU OP 10.14: Reporting Suspected Wrongdoing. This policy provides employees a process to safely and appropriately report allegations of wrongdoing.
- Texas Tech University Office of Human Resources, Talent Support. The Talent Support team provides support through development opportunities and encourages employee engagement through performance management to build professional teams and retain a strong workforce. The team also meets with employees and consults with managers to provide honest and constructive feedback as they strive to resolve issues in the workplace, to reduce risk to the university, and to promote better working relationships. Email: email@example.com or phone: 806-742-3650 for assistance.
If the reporter is seeking solutions to a Leadership Assessment. On request, Human Resources assists departments through a comprehensive leadership assessment when they believe there is a supervisor or manager that is not performing well or that could use additional training/mentoring.
Staff Participation in Community Outreach
"The University's Community Outreach Program applies to faculty and students, but I was unable to find anything similar for staff members. My wife is a teacher in the Lubbock area and they were asking for judges for their Science Fair but without taking vacation time there is nothing that encourages staff to participate in these type events. If I missed some existing program, please let me know. I believe our staff have the strongest ties to the community and would willingly participate in similar events for the good of the community."
Staff Senate representatives met with the administration of the Office of Outreach & Engagement. Outreach & Engagement serves as a centralized resource to encourage programs like service-learning and community outreach. They began their focus on faculty and students and are now working to provide outreach opportunities to staff. They have established several community partners and continue to identify more. Staff Senate will support their efforts by disseminating information about their reporting system "Raiders Engaged" and distribution of a survey to gauge staff interest.
Currently, staff have several leave options available to participate in community outreach such as serving as a CASA, Red Cross or other emergency response volunteer and donating blood. Staff can also report time used for volunteer events at local schools (e.g., a volunteer program at your child's school) as "Educational Activities" which uses an employees sick leave balance. Up to eight hours of sick leave per fiscal year can be used in this manner by TTU OP 70.01. Direct supervisors must approve time taken to volunteer. Staff are also encouraged to find outreach activities that are related to their job duties.
"Lime Scooters - there are several programs to address. Parking the scooters - they are all over the place - in front of doors, fallen over by bike racks, blocking bike racks, randomly on sidewalk paths. Safety concerns - students drive too fast. They don't stop at stop signs and just go across not looking for cars or pedestrians. They do not wear helmets...Students ride in the middle of the street or on sidewalks and not in the bike lanes. Student need instructions or warnings or something."
There are designated Lime parking areas on campus; they are currently placed at 15 locations at academic buildings on campus determined by usage. On campus, scooter riders must park at a bicycle rack or in the designated Lime parking areas to keep sidewalks, ramps, stairs, and other architectural features clear. Lime has also developed pop-up Lime valets at basketball and baseball home games. Lime has representatives in Lubbock who are tasked every night with picking up, charging, inspecting, and relocating scooters. They also have a team riding modified trikes to pick up errant scooters every weekday during normal business hours on campus.
If Transportation & Parking Services (TPS) see or receive a report of a problematic area, they share that with the local Lime manager for immediate attention and, in some cases, more attention to a certain area on a consistent basis. For example, Media and Communication seems to be an area that needs extra attention, which we shared with Lime. We've found that most riders are conscientious and place scooters in designated areas, and a small minority are non-compliant.
Scooter operators are required to follow the same rules as bicycles, and that includes anything a car must do if they choose to ride in a bike lane or in the road. It's an area we continually we try to improve because it's an area of need for rider cooperation and adherence to Texas laws. Texas Tech Police Department, which oversees moving violations, patrols the use of the scooters in the road. The scooters are programmed to travel at a max speed of 14.8 mph and to slow or stop in Pedestrian Zones, such as between the SUB and Library. Because scooter users are identified through the Lime app, they receive email notices and pop-ups in the app advising them of this as well.
Helmet laws vary from state to state, and Texas does not require helmets for riding bicycles or scooters. In every media interview and piece of literature, we encourage helmet use, and Lime does offer a free helmet program. This nationwide program was so popular that it ran out of helmets and is working to restock. Unfortunately, convincing young people to wear helmets while on bicycles and scooters—even when free—is a difficult task.
Lime has been very well received by students, and because of its newness, TPS continues to look for ways to improve the experience, safety, and education associated with the scooters and e-bikes. Lime is very new as well and has been extremely receptive of input and needs for campus. They understand how important campus beauty and cleanliness is to us, and they want to be good partners as well. Contact TPS at firstname.lastname@example.org with concerns about specific areas related to Lime scooters.
Staff Merit Raises
"I would like to know from the staff senate how the following relate in proportional growth over the last 10 years: Tuition Rise, Staff Merit Raises, and the addition of administrative positions."
The Issues Committee met with the Chief Financial Officer, Chief of Staff, and HR directors to discuss the issue of staff merit raises. The information gained was very insightful to the process of staff merit raises. The issue is not straightforward as many variables come into play when the operating budget of the University is established.
- The operating budget of the University is based on state funding and other sources such as tuition, auxiliary services, etc.
- State funding has steadily decreased over the past few years, meaning more the operating budget must come from other sources.
- Each year, the Division and College leaders meet with the President and Chief Financial
Officer to propose budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Leaders can request funds
for new services, personnel additions, merit raises, etc. along with providing justification
for such requests.
- Administration then looks at all the requests and makes decisions about who receives the requested funding. The priorities lie with those requests that serve to meet the strategic plans and goals of the University.
- The University performs extensive reporting on finances which are all available online.
- Tuition increases occur biennially on off-legislative years.
- Some degrees are more expensive than others meaning the University practices "differential tuition". For example, engineering courses where lab space and specialized materials are needed will cost a student more than an English class where the needs of the class are different.
- Every student taking a course will pay the same amount for the course no matter what their major is because differential tuition is based on the course itself not the degree of the student.
- Texas Tech has maintained a "merit pool" since roughly 2008-10.
- The estimated amount of money for a 2% merit increase for staff is approximately $4 million.
- A 2% merit increase is used as the baseline determined by how other Texas institutions allocate their merit raises.
- If a merit increase is approved, the discretion of the supervisor can allocate that amount of money in a non-uniform way.
- Only employees who have received an overall score of 4 (or "meets expectations") on their most recent evaluation is eligible to receive a merit raise.
- Staff positions across campus are funded differently. Sources include state funds,
grant funds, auxiliary funds, tuition, etc. Only positions funded by certain state
funds are granted a merit raise when a University-wide raise is approved.
- Employees can ask their supervisor how their position is funded.
- Employees can also ask their departmental financial director or business manager how their position is funded.
- Employees can also contact the University Budget Office at email@example.com but will need to know their position number and other employment information.
After this year's budgets are created, which are currently delayed because of pending legislation at the state-level, the financial leadership of the University will host several University Town Hall meetings to disclose the information related to University income, spending and how budgets are decided.
In the past, they have hosted College Budget Hearing which are now being expanded to a University-level to encourage attendance from personnel from services, auxiliary departments and other non-academic departments that may not have been given an opportunity to attend. The Staff Senate will help spread the word about these meetings when they are scheduled.
Jesus Vega (Other Professionals)
LJ Gould (Clerical & Secretarial)
TTU Staff Senate
AddressBox 45040, Texas Tech University, 2500 Broadway, Lubbock, TX 79409