While some Yale students complain that their Eli breakfast sandwiches are too greasy, some Yale Dining Services managers who have worked in University dining halls for decades have some more substantial complaints — like job demotions and 10 percent pay cuts.
Last spring Yale administrators decided to re-evaluate the salary and responsibilities of all Yale Dining Services administration personnel to cut red tape and improve efficiency.
But for four administrative staffers who received pay cuts in their future salary and demotions as a result, the reclassification has been disheartening and has lowered morale at the dining halls where they work, they claim.
As part of a reclassification ordered by Dining Services Director David Davidson and associate vice president of student and administrative services Ernst Huff, each Dining Services manager and clerical worker had to submit a description of their job and their responsibilities at that position. Yale’s Office of Reclassification and Compensation then determined the appropriate position and salary for each employee before July 1, the start of fiscal year 2002. Changes in salary will not go into effect until fiscal year 2003.
Out of 45 reclassified positions, only four employees received pay cuts. The other 41 will either receive the same or a higher salary than before the reclassification, Huff said.
Those affected directly by the restructuring through salary cuts and downgrades in job status, and their colleagues, said they are upset.
“I feel sold out,” said a manager, who requested anonymity out of fear for his job. “There are a lot of managers here who have given a lot of themselves to the University through thick and thin, and now it seems like that doesn’t matter anymore.”
Restructuring the Dining Services administration streamlined a previously confusing managerial structure that had not been evaluated for more than five years, Davidson said. He and Huff decided to reclassify all managerial jobs to improve efficiency and communication in the dining halls.
“[The reclassification] gave us more clarity regarding who is responsible for which task,” Davidson said. “Before, if a manager had a question on purchasing, there were five people he could ask. Now there is only one.”
Not only did the reclassification improve communication, but the employees that were negatively affected constituted a minority that is common in reclassifications, Huff said.
“You want to be as effective as possible as an organization,” Huff said. “[The reclassification] is management 101. It is not an isolated occurrence. It has occurred throughout the University.”
Although only four employees will make less money in fiscal year 2003, Berkeley dining hall manager Michael Stringer ’77, who was the area manager for the Hall of Graduate Studies and Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges last year, is one of many managers who had his work description downgraded.
“I like the overall goal of reclassification and increasing managerial staff,” said Stringer, who has worked for Dining Services for more than 24 years. “It’s just disheartening to those of us who have been around in the department. [The reclassification] leaves very little chance for advancement.”
Although Stringer said he believes the reclassification has not affected morale in the dining halls, some managers believe otherwise.
“The morale is shot,” said a dining hall manager. “We’re told to keep the lines of communication open but that comes back to haunt us, so now people just keep quiet. This is how [Yale] is going to make the books look better.”
Davidson and Huff consulted Local 34 union representatives, including Meg Riccio, in preliminary talks and during the reclassification to ensure union employees’ satisfaction with the process. Managers not in Local 34 also got to meet in person with Davidson to discuss their personal concerns regarding reclassification, Davidson said.
Even with the individual meetings, Huff expected the effects of reclassification might be detrimental to some employees.
“We knew [morale] would be a problem,” Huff said.
Only the clerical workers in Dining Services are a part of Local 34.
Although some managers have had a difficult time adjusting to the reclassification program, Stringer said there is no controversy over their top priority.
“It’s frustrating after 25 years to take some steps backwards,” Stringer said. “But I’m here to serve the Berkeley community and Yale students at large, and that’s what I intend to keep doing.”