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To the Editor

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 25 - March 28, 1996

Virginia introduces "Zen" pay raises
First there is a pay increase, then there is no pay increase, and then there is... (sung to the tune of Donovan's "First there Is a Mountain").

Well how does it work? Remember, you have to be clever to work in Richmond. To simplify what was never intended to be simple: on Dec. 1, 1996, state employees receive a pay increase (increasing our bi-weekly pay by 4.35 percent for the classified staff, 6 percent for the instructional and research faculty, and 4 percent for the administrative and professional faculty) and then beginning the month of January 1997, the state starts subtracting an amount from our "new pay" which will total one full pay period (i.e., two weeks, which will effectively negate the increase) thereby giving workers a raise and immediately taking it back.

Lest we forget, state employees will receive this "withheld pay" when they retire, quit, or die (remember that they are already holding your first two weeks so they will hold four weeks of your pay in reserve). Maybe state employees could get permission to make "Zen" payments on their homes, cars, etc.

Or perhaps this came about because John Bennett (director of the Senate Finance Committee) bet a colleague that he could sell a furlough to workers where they lose two weeks pay and still work for it.

Let's get that Richmond water checked please.

Funny, on paper, workers do end up with approximately a 6-percent increase in 1998, because the withheld paycheck doesn't appear in the salary column. If you've paid attention over the years, (it started with the movement of the pay date from July 1 to December 1 by then-Governor Wilder) state workers receive no raise for 1996, then they receive a raise for '97 but immediately it is suspended for one year. So yes, state workers are receiving approximately a 6-percent raise for the year 1998 and that after receiving NO RAISES FOR 1996 AND 1997. Someone must think that this "Zen pay raise" is a clever alternative to stating that state workers will not receive a raise either in 1996 or 1997. Yet Virginia Tech's own administrators state, "the alternative of no salary increases is a less favorable option." Go figure.

Jeshua Pacifici