Thursday, May 06, 2010


Well, kids: it looks as though everyone's favorite accidental governor will be furloughing yours truly--along with some 100,000 other state workers--for one day a week, effective almost immediately, until the state budget is passed.

In case you can't do the math, that's a 20% salary reduction.

Nevermind the fact that this is almost certainly illegal (and nevermind the fact that Flavia may be forced to drink rail gin for the next little while); this is the stupidest cost-saving measure I've ever heard of.

Allegedly, it will save the state millions of dollars. But the implementation costs (or so I've been told by those whose states or employers have already instituted furloughs) will cut that savings significantly. The state will also lose tax revenue. And since the unions are already taking action, the state will be on the hook for legal expenses--and if the measure is eventually found to be illegal, as it has been in other states, it will prove to be a huge net loss once all that money is refunded.

I understand that the governor is trying to play hardball with the state legislature and with the unions, and I have some professional respect for a good brinksman. But this isn't brinksmanship. This is just stupidity.


heu mihi said...


I'm sorry.

I don't even understand HOW this would work in a university setting, by the way. 20% reduction in course materials covered? 20% reduction in legitimacy of diplomas?

Dr. Crazy said...

Ugh. That sucks, Flavia. For as much as morale is low at my shop because this will be the second year running with no raises (and like the 4th with major cuts across all units), I'm thankful that we've not yet had furloughs on the table as a "solution."

squadratomagico said...

20%???? That's quite a chunk o' change! Is it tied to rank at all? We've had cutbacks at OPU, but it's proportional -- higher percentages for higher salaries -- so that assistants aren't reamed.

I'm sorry!

Flavia said...

This is meant as a temporary measure--as I say, it's just until the budget is passed, so it's not going to be (knock wood) a 20% reduction of my annual salary: just of each week that the budget isn't passed. Realistically, I don't think it could take more than a month or two, maximum. Not that I can really pay my bills for those two months--but, better than its being long-term.

We haven't had any cuts at all, yet--all our scheduled cost of living raises, and indeed our merit raises, have remained in place, and my particular campus is actually doing pretty well financially. But the governor is pissed that the state employee unions won't agree to forgo our upcoming CoL raises, and he's pissed at the state legislature, so he's going for the nuclear option.

I'm okay with my union negotiating concessions, including reducing/delaying/foregoing our CoL raise, or even a few furlough days (scattered in a reasonable way throughout the year). The state's in a financial bind, after all. But I'm NOT okay with the governor doing it unilaterally.

Sisyphus said...

Sigh. So like they say, as California goes, so goes the nation --- even when it's off a cliff. Sorry.

You may want to look at what the UC and CSU faculty did (not all of it good) to protest the furloughs over here and mount an opposition.

Renaissance Girl said...

Holy smokes, that's drastic stuff. I'm so sorry to hear it.

Re: Rail gin: Couldn't you just drink 20% less Tanqueray?

Bardiac said...

Ugh, I'm sorry.

Let me guess: legislators aren't affected?

feMOMhist said...

ugh, sciDAD realized that his "scheduled" furlough days were not going to work with summer time keeping and thus panicked and took one today and will take another next week. Honestly they should just call a pay cut a pay cut and skip the fiction that profs aren't working one day a week.

meanwhile the non sapphire bombay gin is potable and cheaper.

Dr. Virago said...

Do not like! (as I would say on Facebook)

That's so effed up. It's ultimately just political drama in the guise of being fiscally tough. What a tool.

Do you guys get paid in the summer, btw? Our contracts and thus salaries are for 9 months -- today is our last payday -- so if our gov'r tried this, it would have NO effect on 9 month faculty!!

medieval woman said...

Holy F*ck! Hope it all gets worked out soon...rail gin = bad idea.

Flavia said...

Dr. V: this is a point one of my colleagues raised. Our salary is for nine months of work, but it gets paid out over 12 months, so technically, after May, we're getting paid for work completed in previous months.

I'm not sure that means we'd be exempt, though, since (as MOM notes) the "furlough day" is such a fiction anyway. If this happened during the academic year, I'd definitely take my furlough day on a teaching day--the better to make the governor's actions visible to a wider population--but at this point I'm not going to not give my finals, or not turn in my grades. That just seems punitive and pointless.

Bardiac: I'm don't think the legislators' salaries are affected, no. And the governor has also not yet required them to meet 5 days a week, as he's legally able to do (they currently meet just 11 days a month)--saying he didn't want to be "acrimonious." But that would seem the most expedient way to get the budget passed!

Susan said...

Grim. As someone who has been "on furlough" this year, I agree this is terrible. The advantage of furlough vs. cuts is for retirement, and base salary calculations, etc. And at least ours -- like OPU -- is progressive.

The staff does take their furlough days, and it has been a struggle at times.

Anonymous said...

Not that I can really pay my bills for those two months

Damn, lady -- you're way too old to be living paycheck-to-paycheck.

phd me said...

Damn, indeed. I won't even bother getting on my soapbox since you can well imagine my response.

I think everyone here at PRU is waiting for the same announcement. We've had no CoL or merit raises last year or this year; they changed up our retirement benefits; but there's still a lot of murmuring from administration that they can't make ends meet.

And just when you thought you were moving away from the graduate student lifestyle...

The Bittersweet Girl said...

Royally sucks! We haven't been furloughed yet -- though I can see it coming down the pike.

Raising my glass of rock gut to you!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to chime in about the suckage. So sorry!