AFSCME's Response to the U Report on Administration

The report uses two models for analyzing four departments handpicked by University Administration. The benchmarking used by one of the models (Bain and Company) states that there should be 6-7 direct reports per supervisor for expertise-based functions and 11-13 direct reports for task-based functions.  The U of M falls grossly below this standard, with the average manager in three of these departments (Procurement, Finance, Human Resources) supervising five people or less. The other model (Sibson) paints a slightly better picture when organizational levels are factored in but still finds 29 people in these 4 departments who supervise only one person. It should be noted that the Sibson model seems to favor a high number of mid-level administrators so it is not surprising that the U chooses to rest their analysis on this model. Neither model takes into account staffing changes that have occurred over time, and thus miss the greater question of how the U got so top heavy.
AFSCME 3800 has conducted our own analysis of staffing changes from 2008 to 2012, based on numbers provided to us from the University’s Office of Institutional Reporting. Since 2008, civil service positions at the U have been reduced by 7.5% (approximately 750 positions). Of those, clerical positions have been reduced by nearly 10% - a loss of 150 jobs. Most of these came in the form of layoffs - real people losing their jobs at the height of the worst economic crisis in nearly a century. At the same time, upper management (academic administrative staff) increased by 3.8% or 85 positions.
Looking more closely at the Office of Human Resources, one of the departments analyzed in the Report to the Legislature, data provided to AFSCME by the U reveals that while total human resources staff decreased by 9 positions (5.23 percent), during the period between October 2008 and October 2012, the number of academic administrative positions increased by 14 – a 36 percent increase.  Civil service staff – including bargaining unit members – decreased by almost 18 percent during this period.
The story of staffing changes at the University of Minnesota over the last five years is one of disparities in staff cuts. Union members are still being laid off with regularity and vacated positions are going unfilled. Workers that remain work harder, work faster, and suffer more as they struggle to keep their colleges and departments afloat and provide the quality services needed by our students.
Management has not made the same sacrifice, particularly those at the highest levels. AFSCME has repeatedly shared our findings with the University administration. In return we have been ignored or gotten lip service. The administrative excesses have made front-page headlines in both local and national media outlets. The time for a change in direction is now.
Governor Dayton includes an increase of $80 million in funding to the U. We welcome the increase, and also welcome his requirement for University accountability. Without a serious re-evaluation of both the University of Minnesota’s original mission to provide accessible and affordable education for all and the U's ability and commitment to provide decent, career jobs for all workers, the future for students, workers, and all Minnesotans is at risk. The U needs to chop from the top.