Reimbursement checks for fees paid by 50% ASEs in Winter Quarter 2013 were sent by the University earlier this week. However the amount issued for the SFR Fee was incorrect: the Winter 2013 SFR fee was $91 while only $80 (plus interest) was reimbursed. We’ve contacted the University about this mistake and to inquire how it will be fixed.
The implementation of our Settlement Agreement with the University over the SFR and U-Pass Fees continues to be rife with problems. The checks that have been issued to cover previous quarters have contained errors, either because the amounts per quarter were mis-calculated or because certain quarters (notably Summer 2012) were left off entirely. Individual ASEs have had trouble getting access to information about their U-Pass refunds, and the Transportation office has been sending misleading communications about the U-Pass with no reference to the right of eligible non-users to get refunded under the collective bargaining agreement. Some have been mistakenly denied reimbursements because of job title classification or other errors. Above all the process has taken an inordinately long time and has resulted in an enormous amount of confusion and frustration. We’ve spoken several times with the office of Labor Relations about this and they have acknowledged a significant backlog of problems which they are apparently dealing with single-handedly. We’ve been asked to pass on their apologies for the delay while they sort out the various issues and reply to each affected ASE individually.
In addition to the hardships caused while ASEs wait for the refunds to which they’re entitled, increasingly it is clear that the implementation of the settlement agreement is resulting in significant and unnecessary extra costs to the University. The University estimates that it costs $12 to generate and mail each check, which means that so far the University has spent about $100,000. Each quarter that the University continues the current implementation results in another wasted $40,000. Thesee estimates do not even factor in the amount of time the University staff has put in to fix errors, which has been significant.
We’ve proposed simpler solutions that, we think, are more cost-effective to the University and far more beneficial to our members. The SFR fee should be covered in the same manner as the Technology Fee: waived at the outset of the quarter rather than charged and reimbursed. This would eliminate any errors in calculating the amount due and minimize errors that come from issuing individual checks. Likewise the U-Pass Fee should be handled prospectively rather than retrospectively. 50% ASEs who anticipate not using the U-Pass should be allowed to de-activate it at the beginning of the quarter and receive a prompt refund – if they are asked to pay for the Pass at all.
We’ve been told that the University is considering these alternatives but currently is continuing to operate with a system in which reimbursements are processed months after the fees have been paid. As many members have suggested in recent weeks, we will address this unacceptable system at higher levels and with greater visibility in an attempt to solve this problem. We appreciate your continued involvement as we move forward and will keep you updated. As always feel free to contact us with questions/problems about your individual situation.