Monday, July 27, 2009

Faculty approve furlough idea; Perfect Storm brewing

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Members of the California Faculty Association approved the notion of furloughs (and a concomitant 9.75 percent pay reduction) in voting last week.

They also voted that they have about as much confidence in CSU Chancellor Charles Reed as England did in the late Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister whose policy of appeasement with Adolph Hitler managed to make World War II more complicated. (Somewhat of an understatement, but keep reading, please...)

But stop trying to see if Neville Chamberlain is an anagram for Charles Reed. It isn't, even if the appeasement parallels are very interesting.

Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Chancellor Charles Reed
Charles Reed

The details of how the 2 days per month faculty furloughs will work have to be negotiated between the California Faculty Association and Reed. But if earlier negotiations this summer are any indication, he won't negotiate anything.

What he has is cash to get through the fall semester, and now enough time to begin the process of faculty layoffs. I suspect he would have liked to have started the layoffs at the beginning of the summer, but figured it wouldn't fly politically.

Word of advice to young, untenured faculty: Tune up your resume quick - and consider what else you might do besides teach in the CSU.

Faculty reactions should be very interesting. Because a traditional furlough won't work (the result of having teaching schedules that are all over the place, timewise.), it could be that faculty will just figure out how to do 9.75 percent less work.

One formula might be easy: Faculty teaching four classes - and who also have three office hours per week - could reduce their class time (12 hours per week) and office hours (3 hours per week) and their prep time (as much as one hour of prep per class hour) by 9.75 percent.

In a 15-week semester, that would mean cutting out about 40 hours of work (class time, office hours and prep time) during the semester. (Trust me on the math, please.)

Will faculty consider something like this? Some will, some won't.

Regardless, with students paying 30 percent more in tuition this semester and faculty getting paid nearly 10 percent less, we have a near perfect storm in the California State University brewing and ready to hit.

California furlough sign
California furlough sign

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