Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Furloughs for state school profs" - blog post from The Scientist

This hasn't happened at UMass Amherst yet... [To see the full article, click on the title of this posting]

Posted in The Scientist by Jef Akst
[Entry posted 22nd July 2009]

Universities across the US are forcing their employees to take unpaid leave, effectively reducing the salary budget without reflecting pay cuts on paper. But for most researchers, who cannot easily pause their studies, what furloughs really amount to is a simple reduction in income -- the same amount of work for less money.

Image: Flickr/hoyasmeg
"Especially in the sciences, [professors can't just stop] laboratory experiments or any ongoing monitoring they're doing," said John Curtis, Director of Research and Public Policy at the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). "In most cases, [the end result is] just that they get a pay cut."

Last week (July 16), the University of California Board of Regents enacted a furlough plan to save $184.1 million by requiring their employees to take between 11 and 26 days of unpaid leave, amounting to a 4-10% reduction in pay. But the UC system isn't the first; several US schools have been quietly implementing similar plans in the past several months. The problem, of course, is that faculty aren't 9-to-5 employees, and walking away from academic work can be like trying to escape your own shadow.

"The teaching load is not being reduced, [nor] the expectations for producing," Curtis said. "It's something we really hadn't heard of except in isolated cases, and then all of a sudden this spring, probably about 12 public colleges or universities announced furloughs of one kind or another."


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