From WILL - News -

Raises Coming For Many U of I Employees

University of Illinois

In this March 4, 2010 photo, University of Illinois faculty and graduate employees march on campus in Urbana, Ill., to protest dwindling state support for higher education. (David Mercer/AP)

The University of Illinois says it is going to offer raises to employees on all three campuses.

In a mass e-mail, U of I President Robert Easter said merit-based salary increases of up to 2.75 percent will be available with the new appointment year in August, except where union agreements provide otherwise

Easter said every employee, except in special circumstances, will receive a minimum pay increase of one-half of 1-percent.

"Providing a competitive employee compensation and benefits package in a consistent and predictable manner is essential to recruit and retain the best personnel, and it is among our highest human resources objectives," Easter said. "This has been a challenge given the State of Illinois' fiscal instability during the last decade, which has required a great deal of sacrifice by our people."

"The state's financial circumstances will continue to challenge us," Easter added. "But the University is accomplishing much through prudent resource management and planning, which allows us to provide a competitive but modest salary program."

While public universities got flat funding for this new fiscal year, future state funding is a big unknown. Legislators are still debating what to do about public workers' pensions.

In the face of it all, the U of I is giving employees raises for the second year in a row.  

U of I spokesman Tom Hardy said it will cost about $30 million, which the school can afford after several years in which workers got none, or even saw their pay cut.

"We've done a lot of belt tightening, done administrative review and restructuring program where we've able to identify savings," he said.

The state of Illinois still owes the U of I more than $180 million in unpaid bills.

Easter's letter to university officers detailing the 2014 salary program can be found here.