Doling out the dough

You elect them next week. How much does your AMS executive make, and what do they do to earn their salaries?

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell and President Kingsley Chak spend a moment relaxing in the AMS office.
AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell and President Kingsley Chak spend a moment relaxing in the AMS office.
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AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning (left) works with Media Services Director Gillian Wheatley.
AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning (left) works with Media Services Director Gillian Wheatley.
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In next week's AMS election you'll vote for $58,359 worth of student government, and set in motion an two month hiring process for the $691,741 worth of commissioners, directors, managers and other AMS salaried staff.

In 2007-08, the AMS paid $494,917 in wages to all its staff; $209,511 of that went towards the executive, commissioners and directors that make up AMS council.

AMS Executive salaries have increased $3,909 since 1998-99, and increased $1,725 from the 2006-07 year.

AMS General Manager Claude Sherren said all salaried positions in the AMS are set in the previous year by the Board of Directors’ Management Committee.

The Management Committee is chaired by the vice-president (operations) and composed of the three services directors, general manager, human resources officer, one of the non-student directors, two student directors and the retail operations officer.

Sherren said the Management Committee meets in the fall.

“They deal with any new positions, change the structures that go along with that, and write the words that describe those changes and job descriptions,” he said. “At the end, prior to the new executive being elected, the new council and all the other positions being hired, the salary grid is set.”

Sherren said any big changes to the salary grid are driven by structural change, such as the creation of a new position.

He said either the AMS Executive or the Board of Directors can make a structural change, which can also be driven by a rise in tuition or inflation.

“You don’t want to do it every year, but you want to do it more than once every 10 years,” he said. “It just becomes part of the Board’s mindset that this is the year we should be doing it.”

If it’s a year that doesn’t require comprehensive change, salaries are increased according to the rise of the Canadian Price Index (CPI), which is usually two or three per cent.

Sherren said there’s a trade-off that every student working in the society has to make because of the time commitment involved.

“Many students must exclude any other way to make money, and some of the positions have to give up their summer employment,” he said. “Some of the salaries we offer are lower than some students get during four months in the summer.”

AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning said one of the Management Committee’s functions is to review the annual remittance structure and report back to the Board of Directors as to how it should be changed for the upcoming year.

“The report is subject to approval by the Board,” he said. “If all goes well, the remittance and salaries are set for the upcoming year in advance of the election so to make sure that that’s all taken care of by the time the new team comes in and they start hiring staff.”

Manning said one aspect of putting together the salary grid involves a point system that evaluates each position’s importance from one to 10. The numbers are allocated based on each positions consequence of action, judgment, supervision and representation.

“The executive receives the highest amount of points in each category,” he said. “All other positions are judged in relation to the executive.” Manning said there are typically no significant changes to the remittance structure on a yearly basis.

He said the annual budget the vice-president (operations) sets doesn’t play a part in setting the salary grid.

“After the election, the new vice-president (operations) will come and they will start working on the next year’s budget as soon as their staff is hired, and the budgeting process happens over the summer,” he said. “Prior to the election, next year’s salary levels will all be set.”

Manning said there are a couple of considerations as to what constitutes a good salary level for a particular position.

“The most important consideration is what level of salary gets the best results for the society,” he said.

Other considerations include providing a salary that would make the job accessible to anyone, regardless of financial background.

“If a salary is too low, then you’re not able to attract people because they can’t afford to make that little amount of money for that amount of time or you might not be attracting top candidates,” he said. “You might otherwise attract better people if the job is a bit more.”

On the other hand, Manning said setting a salary too high isn’t the best option, either.

“If you set a salary that is too high you might attract people and results that you would still get if the salary were a bit lower,” he said. “Or if you set the salary too high you can also run into the possibility that a person is doing the job just for the money so you may actually get less value.”

Manning said Queen’s has a highly active student government that pays some of the lowest salaries in Canada.

“At Queen’s we have a very active student government that gives students more responsibility than any other student government in the country, and yet we pay our employees one of the lowest, if not the lowest, salaries.”

However, Manning said student motivation overrides the relatively low salaries.

“People know that what they get out of the job is not just the pay but also the experience factor,” he said. “It seems to work right now that we get a good result while paying people not a huge salary.”

A day in the life

AMS President Kingsley Chak

Says he works 60 to 80 hours per week

Is taking three courses and says he attends an average of four hours of class per week

Gets about 40 e-mails per day

Spends 30 to 40 hours per week in meetings

AMS Vice-President (Operations) John Manning

Says he works 60 to 80 hours per week

Is taking three courses and says he attends between zero and six classes per week

Gets about 20 e-mails per day

Spends 30-plus hours per week in formal and “informal” meetings

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell

Says she works 60 to 80 hours per week

Is taking three courses and says she attends between zero and six classes per week

Gets about 25 e-mails per day

Spends 20-plus hours per week in meetings

Spends every other week prepping for what the executive will be presenting to assembly, and thinking about what questions will come up.

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