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Monday, May 10, 1999

  • Staff vote on 24 paydays
  • Progress report on PeopleSoft
  • Composer speaks on Wednesday
  • A scam on the phone, and more

Staff vote on 24 paydays

Ballots were sent to staff members on Friday asking them, "Should the University move its staff payroll from monthly to twice-monthly?" And the first thing I'd better say is that "twice-monthly" is not the same thing as biweekly. So I was wrong in Friday's Bulletin when I said that the vote would be on making payday come biweekly (every two weeks). Twice-monthly, says an information sheet with the ballot, "means pays would be made on the 15th and the last calendar day of each month."

About the ballots

Each voter is getting a ballot (attached to the information sheet), a grey "Voter Verification Sheet", a big envelope and a small envelope. How to vote: Cut the ballot off the information sheet. Mark yes or no. Put the ballot in the small envelope and seal it. Fill out the grey "Voter Verification Sheet". Put the grey sheet and the small envelope into the large envelope, seal the large envelope and put it into the campus mail.
The referendum is being held by the staff relations committee, after the issue of paydays was raised by representatives of the staff association. Charlene Schumm, president of the association, says members of her executive "often hear complaints regarding our monthly pay system. There are certain beefs staff have with this institution and the intervals in which we're paid is one of them." Faculty members are also paid monthly, on the last Friday of the month. Unionized staff are paid every two weeks.

Said Schumm: "It's just that we've had this system for so long, people have grown accustomed to the inconvenience and have reduced their discontent to a low rumble. That rumble, however, is steady and widespread."

So, the staff relations committee discussed the idea. "As part of these discussions," says the information sheet with the ballot, "the Committee considered various pay periods: weekly, bi-weekly, every four weeks, and twice-monthly. Because of financial implications for the University, twice-monthly was determined as the only option other than monthly that could be considered."

The information sheet says it would cost $134,900 a year to switch from monthly to twice-monthly pay. A little more than $50,000 of the cost comes from interest that UW would lose from not keeping money in its bank accounts for as long; the rest are administrative expenses. The costs would have to be deducted from the annual pay increase for staff, the sheet says: "for example, if it had been determined to move to twice-monthly pay periods on May 1, 1999, the 1.5% increase in job value would have been reduced to 1.23%."

It says a majority of all regular full-time and part-time staff will have to vote in favour of the change if anything is to be done. "If the referendum vote is positive, work on conversion would begin no earlier than January 2000 with implementation several months thereafter."

The staff association will hold an open meeting to discuss the subject this Thursday, May 13, at 12 noon in Math and Computer room 4021. Says Schumm: "If you're not sure about any of the issues surrounding the referendum, please wait with your vote until after our discussion May 13th. Hopefully, we can answer all your questions."

Progress report on PeopleSoft

The two huge systems projects involving UW and PeopleSoft Inc. -- one for human resources and one for student administration -- are going pretty well, a seminar in the information systems and technology department was told on Friday.

"We're very well off here, relative to other institutions," said combinatorics and optimization professor Steve Furino, who's working full-time these days on the admissions part of the Student Information Systems Project.

There are now 24 people working "almost full-time" on SISP, said Dave Mason of IST, who is the project manager. The number will rise to about 30 soon, he said, as more people are borrowed from IST, the registrar's office, the graduate studies office and other departments to work on admissions, records and financial aid, as well as the more technical aspects of SISP.

It's a big job, involving some 240,000 records for students, applicants and alumni, and more all the time. "We have to connect," Mason added, "with all sorts of other systems, like co-op, alumni and the library, before we're ready to go into production." He said some aspects of the system will be running next year -- starting with admissions -- while others, such as student records and possibly "self-service" for students who want to make address and course changes, will come along in 2001.

The other big PeopleSoft project, the Human Resources Management System, went live in November 1998 and has been pretty successful, Connie van Oostveen of IST told the seminar. There have been 33 payroll "cycles" since then, "we've applied four tax updates," T-4 slips were issued to thousands of employees for 1998, and some 2,200 new "employees" (including student scholarship recipients) have been added to the records in the past six months, she said.

"We've built the salary increase program," van Oostveen added, "and it's being run, as we speak." (Faculty and staff salary increases were effective May 1 and should show up in the end-of-May payroll.)

"The general ledger interface is very complex," she added, "and we've had to tweak it lots!" Said Neil Murray of the human resources department: "Every time we run a payroll, something else comes up!" Other speakers also noted that a frequent challenge with PeopleSoft is the number of updates and "fixes" to a complicated, constantly changing piece of software.

Composer speaks on Wednesday

The Friends of the Library will host an event on Wednesday to celebrate the creative works of UW's authors, artists and musicians. It begins at noon in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages Building.

The program includes a talk by composer and Conrad Grebel College faculty member Leonard Enns, entitled "Dressing Old Words New: Exploring a Composer's Wardrobe". There will also be an exhibition of the books and other works created by faculty, staff, retirees and students.

Enns is chair of UW's music department and teaches in the areas of music theory, conducting and Canadian music and directs the Chapel Choir. He is the founding director of the newly formed Da Capo Chamber Choir, a community choir specializing in music of the 20th century. Music composition remains the central form of creative expression for Enns. Much of his music has been for choir, and of his 50 or so works to date, many have been commissioned and performed by amateur and professional choirs alike.

In Ontario, Enns's works have been performed by the Iseler Singers, Elora Festival Singers, Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir, and Renaissance Singers. In recent years, he has also written increasingly for instrumental forces including the K-W Symphony, Symphony Hamilton and the Canadian Chamber Ensemble.

It's the seventh annual event of this kind for the Friends of the Library, a group representing those who contribute, either financially or through gifts of material, to the university library. The Friends are interested in the well-being of the library as well as promoting the central role it plays in scholarly and creative pursuits. The annual early-May event began in 1993 with a talk by James Downey, then in his first month as president of UW, and has continued by hearing from five other faculty and staff members about their writing. It's the first time the Friends have invited a speaker whose art form is not the written word.

Everybody is welcome at Wednesday's event.

A scam on the phone, and more

"There appears to be another toner scam going on," says Steve Cook of purchasing services, warning that people across campus should avoid getting ripped off by something calling itself Corporate Supply Centre. It seems that these folks "somehow got the names of people on campus. They are contacted direct and the company says they are affiliated with Hewlett Packard, and that when we purchased the printer a special offer was given for toner cartridges, and that it is soon to expire so we need to act now to receive this great deal. Well, this great deal works out to about $500 per cartridge," which is considerably more than the usual retail price. Don't buy it, says Cook; if you hear from Corporate Supply Centre, call him.

The computer store is inviting people to a video presentation this morning from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple computers, gives the keynote address. The event runs from 11:30 to 2:00 today in Davis Centre room 1302, and "lunch will be served," says Darin Freitag at the store. He's at ext. 3518 for more information.

An open house this evening will show off plans for downtown Waterloo as presented by First Gulf Development -- and that's of special interest because First Gulf, along with the city and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, are sponsoring a design contest for UW architecture students. The open house starts at 5:00 at the Waterloo Recreation Complex, with presentations beginning at 7:00.

An "Ecology and Ethology Colloquium" was supposed to have started today, hosted by the Waterloo Biotelemetry Institute in UW's department of biology. Bad news: the event "has been cancelled because of low registration (many regrets were sent because of conflicts with field seasons for research)". About 100 researchers had been expected for the three-day event.

Key Control "will be open Monday to Friday over the lunch hour in addition to our regular hours beginning May 3, 1999 until May 14, 1999," writes Fran Towner. "Hours for this period will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After May 14 we return to regular hours 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday."

This announcement should say that Master Co-op Records are available, and work reports are due, "tomorrow" (Tuesday, May 11), not "today".
Co-op students probably have this information engraved on their brains already, but here's a reminder: "Master Co-op Records" can be picked up in Needles Hall after 10:00 today. It's a vital document as students prepare for the application and interview process. And, in most faculties, work reports from the winter term are due at 4:00 this afternoon.

Chris Harold, who has just become vice-president (internal) of the Federation of Students, sends word that the Feds are looking for volunteers to do all sorts of challenging things on campus this term. For example -- somebody to coordinate the Food Bank, people to work at the Womyn's Centre (still with a Y, it's been decided), a National Affairs Commissioner, a conflict resolution facilitator, someone to do liaison between the Feds and various clubs, focus group participants, and so on. "Volunteering provides great experience for your resume and for one's own personal development," Harold notes. "It is a great way to meet people and gain first-hand knowledge about the university and the Feds. Also, employers look for people who are active in student life on their campus." Positions are listed on display boards in the Student Life Centre, Village I, and Carl Pollock Hall. "People need to fill out a form and hand it in to the office," says Harold. "The deadline is Friday, May 14." More information: ext. 3780.

Finally . . . a letter to staff and faculty members went out late last week from Great-West Life Assurance, the company that took over administration of the extended health plan as of May 1. "Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience," it says, explaining two different system glitches that complicated some people's lives. "Paper claims can be made for any amount that the plan should have covered," it notes.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
http://www.bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Friday's Bulletin
Copyright © 1999 University of Waterloo