31 August 2010

The end of furloughs

UC furloughs end today, not a minute too soon. Paychecks will return to "normal" as of October 1.

Furloughs were  a bad idea to begin with (achieving savings of about 200 million, or 1% of UC's overall budget), the majority of employees (those not paid out of the general fund) were exempted from them, thereby creating a group of second class employees bearing the brunt of the cuts, and were hugely unpopular.

In addition to being a bad idea, the furloughs were badly executed. All will remember the infamous "Pitts memo," dictating that — contrary to the preferences of a majority of the faculty — furloughs were not to be taken on instructional days. Not being able to take furloughs on teaching days meant the furloughs were really just as straight pay cut, as faculty do not stop doing research on furlough days. The apparent reason for Pitt's edict was "bad optics:" it would have looked bad with the governor, the legislature and the public at large (a concern that apparently Cal State did not share).

Funny how there is no consideration of bad optics when it comes to extravagant executive compensation, $700,000 in housing expenses for the UC President (in just two years), or the "restoration" of retirement benefits for senior management at the same time as UC plans to cut those benefits for everyone else.

Even on the numbers there was never any clarity. It took the University a long time to admit that the furlough program would result in savings far greater than the advertised $200 million (about $500 million), with the extra savings to remain with the units that generated them (a clearly obfuscatory formula). 

So, good riddance to the furloughs, as we brace for the next bright idea to come out of UCOP.


  1. Adding insult to injury for HR staff is the complexity caused by applying Furlough Exchange to faculty salaries, which causes there to often be percentages of percentages, for time periods that don't necessarily follow the academic calendar. So we are furloughed and have more complexity added to our jobs at the same time.....processing pay for people who managed to NOT be furloughed. Sweet!

  2. UC Berkeley Chancellor continues to cast himself as the victim of California politicians and spends $3,000,000 on consultants to do the work of his job! A legacy of waste in UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office: easily grasped by the public, lost on University of California’s President Yudof.
    The UC Berkley budget gap has grown to $150 million, & still the Chancellor is spending money that isn't there on $3,000,000 consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the consultants "thinking, expertise, & new knowledge".
    Does this mean that the faculty & management of UC Berkeley – flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world - lack the knowledge, integrity, impartiality, innovation, skills to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years?
    The consultants will glean their recommendations from faculty interviews & the senior management that hired them; yet $ 150 million of inefficiencies and solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor & Provost Breslauer were doing the work of their jobs (This simple point is lost on UC’s leadership).
    The victims of this folly are Faculty and Students. $ 3 million consultant fees would be far better spent on students & faculty.
    There can be only one conclusion as to why inefficiencies & solutions have not been forthcoming from faculty & staff: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility & the trust of the faculty & Academic Senate leadership (C. Kutz, F. Doyle). Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants' recommendations - disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy - the underlying problem of lost credibility & trust will remain. (Context: greatest recession in modern times)
    Contact your representatives in Sacramento: tell them of the hefty self-serving $’s being spent by UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer.
    Let there be light!