Harvard secretaries working at top grade levels received only a 2.5 per cent pay increase last year, while the average salary for Boston office clerical workers increased 5.4 per cent.
The lower wage increases among University employees are a result of the job-grading system at Harvard which establishes guidelines for maximum salaries, a Harvard administrative assistant said yesterday.
The system, set up by the Personnel Office, rates secretarial work as a Grade 3 position. Once a secretary reaches the top pay level for that grade, he or she receives only a very limited annual raise.
The budget material sent by Dean Rosovsky to each department chairman for 1973-74 suggested that top grade secretaries receive a 2.5 per cent pay increase. The 1974-75 material recommends that top grade secretaries receive 3 per cent pay increases for next year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced two days ago that nationwide consumer prices rose 8.8% in 1973. Retail food prices in the Boston area rose 19.3% during the same period.
Difficult to Regrade
"To try and re-grade someone is very, very difficult," a Harvard secretary said yesterday. "The Personnel Office seems to be closed to the possibility that people may increase their abilities while working."
She said that a strong dissatisfaction with the system is growing among the secretaries. "If you are very good at something, then you have to go elsewhere to do it," she added.
Delda White, director of publications at Radcliffe and former chairman of Women Employed at Harvard, said yesterday, "In effect, long-term employees are penalized for staying here." She estimated that the turnover rate for the ten lowest grade jobs is approximately 35 per cent.
Robert F. Giroux, manager of personnel services, declined to comment on employee pay raise yesterday. "We are dealing with a very complicated system," he said. "This issue is too complex to give any quick answers."
Other members of the Personnel Office could not be reached for comment.
The suggested federal guideline for wage increases is 5.5 per cent.