Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Austerity program for faculty and staff at University of Michigan

This article in the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor student paper succinctly lays out the austerity measures being taken by the University administration against staff and faculty in the coming year:

  • Possibly no "raises" to help salaries keep up with inflation:
    "In an interview yesterday, [Provost] Sullivan said she wasn’t sure yet what raise, if any, faculty and non-union staff would receive. Sullivan said while employee productivity makes her want to give employees a raise, she’s not sure how it would all be funded."

  • "The University will also freeze funds for faculty retention programs and incentives at current levels."

  • "Changes to University employees’ health care packages will also be made in January to help control costs. Instead of the approximate 20 percent paid by employees for their health plan, they will now be responsible for paying 30 percent. [emphasis added]"

  • "New hires to the University will also be confronted by a recently announced plan to implement a one-year waiting period on University contributions to new employees’ retirement funds."
    The matching contributions to 401(a)/401(b) plans are one of the main attractions of working at the University, so this waiting period may have a big effect on hiring.

  • Job losses loom in IT:
    "[Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs] Hanlon said the University has hired a consultant to explore the possibility of outsourcing some services at the University. Among the possibilities, Hanlon said the consultant is currently considering the possibility of outsourcing telephone services and student e-mail. Additionally, Hanlon said other cost containment efforts will include the consolidation of information technology services, restructuring the University Press as part of the University Library System and the implementation of best practices for the use of endowment funds."

This all is taking place while top administrators pull down huge salaries and bonuses.-- the University president ranks fifth in college president saleries in the U.S, and she refused to give back her 4% raise in 2008, despite skyrocketing student tuition. Similarly, other top administrators also make 6-figure salaries (to see some examples, this search the Michigan Daily's presentation of the public salary data by Job Title = Exec). On top of their base salaries (which is all that the public data shows), top administrators often receive huge bonuses, sometimes large perentages of the amount of their base salaries. Unfortunately, the University has locked this data away from the public, and even from staff other than those with a "need to know".

Obviously overpaid administrators are not the only factor at work in causing University top administrators to take austerity measures-- there are legitimate budgetary issues, partially due to declining funding from the state of Michigan.* But I can't help think of an article in the latest issue of Labor Notes: "AT&T Clocks Itself in Economic Crisis, Communication Workers Call Bluff" [print only]:

"... AT&T is playing on hard times to demand a raft of concessions. The telecommunicatons giant wants retirees to pay more for health care and active workers to pay $5,000 out-of-pocket for family coverage, up from several hundred dollars currently."

Of course, the difference between the concessions demanded by AT&T, as detailed in the article, and those demanded by the University of Michigan, is that huge swathes of staff at UM are not unionized. So many of us will be forced to swallow all this, no bargaining allowed.

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