The meeting today was surprisingly pleasant, considering the bad news. It was more of a "the state informed us to inform you folks" meeting than a "what do you want to do?" meeting. And the administrators seem every bit as beaten down by the economic news as anyone else.
I was sort of surprised by the turnout. There were 13 of us in the room, from the headmaster, a couple assistant and associate submasters, some human resources and legal folks, and the faculty from the committee. I think one faculty member was missing of the committee members, and I don't think any of the faculty folk are on contract now, so we were there on our own time.
Part of the meeting was to talk about how many different sorts of employees we are on campus, and what groupings such as classified and unclassified, exempt, non-exempt, and so forth mean in terms of the legalities of labor law. It's messy, and the legal eagle and the human resources folks are putting in a load of extra time these days trying to figure out how to work things out.
For teaching folks, furlough days are supposed to be taken on days that don't impact instruction. For our adjuncts, who are teaching 15 credits, teaching 5 days a week, how does that happen?
And for me, okay, say I have a Thursday non-teaching day, no scheduled classes. So legally, I'm supposed to take a furlough that day and NOT work. The state is very specific about this. You aren't supposed to work, or at least you're supposed to sign a piece of paper saying you aren't working, on the furlough day, because otherwise the state is worried that someone will sue.
So on Friday, do I just walk into my classes, face down 30 or more students and say, "I'm sorry but I didn't prep today"? Really? Do you think that's going to happen? Do you think any teacher is going to not prep or grade or whatever needs to be done because it's a "furlough" and s/he isn't being paid?
You know how I mentioned that all but one of the faculty members was there today, on our own time, NOT on contract? That's how being a faculty member works for most of us. We work pretty darned hard because that's been our habit; that's how we got our PhDs, our jobs, and (if we're in the right place at the right time and all), tenure. We mostly respect what we do and try to do good work; we mostly respect our students and colleagues and try to work well.
A DMV worker who stands in front of the public to do his/her isn't going to work from home on furlough, but teaching folks will prep and grade and so forth.
The headmaster wanted our responses, and I said that I want the university to keep track of all the extra time people are spending on trying to figure out how to make the furlough thing work, and see how much that costs us, and let the state know.
There were 13 of us there, all for an hour, and let's pretend several people had spent an hour prepping (the legal eagle had, the headmaster, and the human resources head). So 16 hours. That's two furlough days worth of work. But the state wasn't paying some of us! So does that mean we owe the state for letting us come to a meeting over the summer without being paid?
I bet that the costs to the state of figuring out all the legal mess of furloughs for all employees cuts pretty deeply into the "savings" from the required furloughs. And the hurt of the paycut for some state employees is going to be deep.
I'm not badly off in any sense of the word, but the sample math I saw today made me really realize that the money off the top of my paycheck is going to be noticable.