Wednesday, May 26, 2010

They Laughed

My contract ended May 23rd. While I was allowed to turn in grades until the 25th, I'm no longer under contract. That means I'm not paid for university duties. A nine month contract is pretty common for academics, and it is what it is.

Let me tell you a little about my contract. In the part where it describes my duties, there's a part that says "and other duties as requested by the chair." That part means that if the chair (my immediate supervisor) asks me to do X, and I do a good job, it goes in my performance review and stuff. It's part of the work I'm expected to do as part of the contract.

It's all very standard, right?

A couple of months ago, my chair asked me if I would be willing to do task X, a task that's under the supervision of a deanish office. Having no good reason to say no and run screaming from the room, I said yes.

It took a while for the deanish office to work things to the point where my services were required, but that point came last week. Task X is pretty darned unusual, so the deanish folks were trying to do things correctly, but since they didn't actually read the directions, things weren't done as correctly as they should have been. But then the head of X read the directions, and we followed them. And that was good. But because we actually read and followed the directions, task X took more time than the deanish folks had planned.

But because the deanish folks hadn't read the directions, task X required my services today, and so the deanish folks requested, and I agreed.

When I went by my department to pick up some stuff, I saw my chair, and I said, we're still working on task X, I hope there's some arrangement to pay me for working while not under contract.

My chair straightfacedly assured me that yes, there would be an extra pay envelop, and then burst out laughing. Until I assured him that I was serious, and that I expect to be paid for the labor I'm performing. And he said, good luck with that. But I reminded him that I was doing this task because I'd been requested to do so by him, and that the task went into the non-contract period, and thus I should be paid additionally for the task. And then I said, "I'd be happy to bill the university for my work as a consultant. I charge $300 an hour for consulting." He looked at me. And then I acknowledged that I don't get much consulting work. And we both laughed.

So I went to do task X. And there was a break, and I asked the deanish folks how we (the folks not under contract) were to be paid for our work today, while we're not under contract. And the deanish folks laughed.

And then I said that I was serious, and I expected to be paid for my labor, because my work had been requested by my supervisor, and I was doing it as requested, but it had gone beyond my contract period.

And then the deanish folk mumbled about asking the higher up.

And I suggested he also ask the campus legal eagle.

Seriously, I did not volunteer to do this extra work, and I certainly didn't volunteer to do it when I have no obligations to the campus.

But our campus has a long history of asking people to volunteer to do administrative-promoted projects during non-contract periods and not paying people for their work.

And our state has a history of not giving faculty a LONG ago promised raise of 2% (promised about 5 years ago for this past year, after being put off before) and our state has a history of giving us a 3% pay cut for this year and next (and who knows if beyond that). In the past year, we've had students added to our classes and we've been asked to do ever more additional work (assessment, anyone?), and we've been paid less. The campus and state have lost a lot of whatever loyalty they might have had.

And yes, I realize that there's not that much money involved, but there's a principle, and that is that we should pay people for their labor unless they explicitly volunteer it.

I'm guessing if necessary I can take this to small claims court, but I sure hope I don't have to.

I'd be willing to take bets that there's talk in the fort about the "bitch who thinks she should get paid." And that talk would come from men who are paid on a year-long contract, and so were paid for their presence at task X today.


  1. Anonymous8:29 PM

    Unreal. Of course they must pay you. What ridiculous world are they living in to expect you to do administrative work without pay?

    The gray area for you is that your chore was originally intended to be done during the academic year, and it seems to have been delayed for reasons somewhat related to incompetence so you were not able to get prior assurance that you would be paid if the work required off contract time. I can see that being a gray area even at my by the book college (where I have indeed been asked to do some assessment work that would require some non contract meetings over the summer and assured I would be paid for that time).

    But gray/schmay, of course you need to pursue this. I assume you aren't part of a union with legal representation?

  2. Sounds pretty straightforward to me. After all, what if you had gone off and gotten a job elsewhere fro your no contract period - then you would not be available to do this work, would you?

    I'd simply ask them to pay you at your contracted rate for the additional days of work.

  3. I see no gray here. If it's a service task, you simply refuse to do it during the summer. If it's an administrative task to be performed outside your contract period, you get paid for it or you don't do it. Period.

  4. Maybe I have a different perspective on this because my CC gives us a choice about how we'll be paid. We can either be paid more per month for 9 months, or less per month for 12 -- so, the total salary is the same and the benefits continue, but the difference is when you get your paycheck.

    Is it the case that faculty on a 12 month contract have a higher annual salary than you do? If so, then don't work for free -- and ask for compensation. If not, then why should someone who happens to get part of the same anual salary as you do be expected to do the work under their annual salary and you want more for doing that work?

  5. AnnieEm, Thanks :) We haven't had a union, but just voted to organize one recently. I don't know when that comes into play.

    Peggy, Yep, that sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

    Roxie, Thanks :)

    Kathy A, Thanks. :)

    Inside, We don't have a choice. Faculty who are on 9 months contract are paid over 9 months. Faculty who are on 12 month contract (those with administrative duties and librarians) are paid more and over 12 months. Our benefits continue over the summer; the employee's contributions are taken out of the June paycheck in a lump for the whole summer.

  6. Yes, it seems like if they won't pay you, then you should refuse to do the work. Tell them you'll be happy to take it up again in September.

    Or maybe you should talk to their legal eagle, too.

  7. @ IPF - At my place you can choose how to be paid - either over 9 months or 12 - but that makes no difference in one's contract period. In other words, if you check off that you'd like to be paid over 12 months, that only is about how your salary will be distributed and not about the period of the contract itself. I suspect it's the same at your place. In contrast, people on 12-month contracts are paid for working a full 12 months, and their contracts run from July 1 to June 30 - not from Aug 15 to May 15 with a gap in between when the one contract ends and the next begins.

    @ Bardiac - what Roxie said. Either they pay you or you don't serve. And, seriously, I wouldn't worry about the performance review ramifications - from what it sounds like, you're in the middle of pay cuts at your uni, and seriously, this is not going to affect you in any tangible way when you are reviewed. By the time there are raises again this will all be a distant memory.

  8. I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to work at an institution that pays full-time faculty twelve months of full salary. Yes, we end up sitting on committees into June or July and doing administrative work for the new term in August (when classes start in September), but at least we're paid for it.

    Suggest to the suits that they put these duties off until the new academic year if they can't get their act together during the regular term!

  9. Bravo, Bardiac. I think I would take the same position. Interesting, though, that I don't seem to mind putting off most of my scholarship-related work to the summer, even though research is 50% of my role statement and thus every bit as much "work" as a committee assignment. Is it because I see research as part of the "calling," and service is just part of the job?

  10. In response to Shane--the reality is that this *is* a 12-month job (when exactly am I supposed to prep for my Fall courses, if not over the summer? And, you know, write?). So really, we should be paid 12-month salary, or have research expectations and/or support (course releases, summer funding, etc.) that reflect the reality of our various teaching loads. And the same support should fund extra (off-contract) service--like this assignment. Besides, despite the fiction of the 9-month work year, it's important to at least maintain SOME boundary between on-contract and off-contract time--which means that, yes, they absolutely need to pay you (Bardiac) for this.

  11. Really, True they won't pay you, then you should refuse for work really its a suggestion.