Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The F word

There is a new F word on campus...furloughs! They may not happen, but we have an opportunity to shape the calculus of the administration in weighing furloughs vs. other options for cuts, as well as in enunciating some principles for structuring the furloughs, should they happen. Some ideas that came up at the meeting on Monday night:
1) make it clear to the administration that if furloughs are imposed, they cannot dictate to us when we take them--i.e. we will take some furlough on days that we are scheduled to teach (if you like this option, how do we explain this to students?)
2) work to rule - prepare a list of things that we can no longer do because we are not being paid to do them - this is not purely a furlough issue but also connected to increased class size and reduced TA support in a context in which expectations for performing service and research remain unchanged. Faculty on 9-month contracts are already working for free on research over the summer, so furloughs add insult to injury. (and again, since this will affect our students, how do we persuade them that this is a legitimate course of action that they should support?)
3) everybody's favorite--tell the administrators making over $200K that they should fire themselves. Fire 8 highly paid administrators and we've closed a large chunk of the budget gap that CLA faces. And these would be permanent cuts!
4) structuring of the furloughs - those earning more should take more furlough days than those making less; staff earning low salaries should be exempted from furloughs; length of contract should be taken into account when calculating the number of furlough days for faculty


  1. Furlough is just a polite word for salary cut. Better to call it by its proper name.

  2. I like the last one the best. Why not give the highest furloughs to the President, and all the Vice Presidents?
    Also, administration need to take really big pay cuts. Basically, all the administrators should should have a cap on their salaries, and they should all start around the level of a mid-level associate professor. Minneapolis is not a terribly expensive town to live in.

  3. I think work to rule is an interesting option. We'd have to set the context--that the recent budget cuts are just the latest move to increase teaching and service workloads without reducing expectations regarding publication, that cuts that have already occurred have affected the quality of what we can accomplish in the classroom, and that faculty and TAs just can't do it all anymore. Some ideas for work we can no longer do:
    1) read honors theses, 2) independent studies, 3) serve on college committees, 4) serve on University committees, 5) carry out centrally-imposed mandates (like the new peer evals of teaching--total PR and are a total waste of faculty time...and don't get me started on the new CLE requirements!), 6) teach 4-credit courses (at least in my dept., 3-credit courses count the same as 4-credit courses and we get no extra TA support, even though more work is assigned)

  4. I agree with that furloughs/pay cuts need to be structured so that individuals with lower salaries take much smaller cuts that those at the top. I would add that folks who make less than $30,000 shouldn't have to take furlough/pay cuts at all.

  5. overworked academicFebruary 19, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    Like Emma G., I think furloughs should be structured according to income and people who make $30,000 or less should not be furloughed at all. (Didn't the President at University of Illinois structure furloughs that way?) I also like the work to rule option. If faculty are furloughed, then we should be doing less work, not the same amount of work for less pay. Dumping college and university service obligations is an excellent suggestion. Another possibility would be cutting our teaching loads down to three course/per academic year.