July 10, 2009

Lawprof David Trubek tries to fathom the furlough here at The University of Wisconsin.

You may have heard of Governor Doyle's plan:
The Governor’s furlough mandate, established in response to the State’s projected budget shortfall, requires an effective cut in pay for all full-time, 12-month employees equivalent to 16 days over the two-year period July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011. The resulting furlough time off (FTO), required by the Governor and approved by the State Legislature, is required for all State and University employees, regardless of the funding sources used for their individual salaries and benefits. The mandatory furloughs result in a 3.065% annual pay reduction.
What's been hard for us faculty members to understand is not the reduction in pay but the requirement that we refrain from working on particular days, as my colleague David M. Trubek writes here in email that he's given me permission to republish.
The Tale of Purloined Work: Humpty-Dumpty Cracks the Case

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 5)

Everyone at The University of Wisconsin will have their pay cut by about 3% and will be “furloughed”—told they do not have to work—for a corresponding period of time. But it turns out that we not only don’t have to work, we are being told we cannot work. The guidelines ban any kind of work during furloughs, anywhere. This means that even if you are at home you are not supposed to read professional material, get and send emails, make calls, use a smart phone, etc. Employees who violate the work ban can be disciplined.

Some people think this rule is irrational, impractical and unjust. Irrational because no one is harmed if we choose to work even if we are not paid. Impractical because of the way many of us work in many locations seamlessly combining work and leisure and using electronic media of all types. Unjust because if people place a high value on work, the policy not only takes away some of our pay; it also takes away working time we value for itself.

Because I am troubled by this policy, I set out to find out how we ended up with what seems like an absurd rule. I did some internet research and think I may have discovered the tortured path that led to the work ban. Because it felt that we, like Alice, had fallen down the rabbit hole, I also sought guidance from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Here is what seems to have happened:

1) The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has two categories of employees: exempt and non-exempt. An exempt person must be paid their full salary for any week they work, however many hours they actually put in. If an exempt person is furloughed, they would still have to get full pay. Non-exempt employees, on the other hand, can have their pay reduced pro-rata with a reduction in their hours. People in “learned professions” are exempt if they earn more than $455 a week (whether paid on an hourly basis or not), have specialized education, and do work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science and learning.

2) Needless to say, faculty and some other academic personnel are classified as exempt. If the rules governing pay for exempt employees were to apply, the UW would not be able to get salary savings from furloughs because the law requires they be paid in full no matter how many hours they work.

3) Since that would defeat the whole purpose of the plan, the only solution is to turn an exempt employee into a non-exempt employee. Since classification depends on the level of education and the type of work people do, you might think this cannot be done by the stroke of a bureaucratic pen. But, remember: we are down the rabbit hole where impossible things are done every day. So, it appears that the University is going to temporarily declare that teachers and other exempt employees are non-exempt for the time period in which the furlough falls. Then, it will specify a number of hours they should work. This will be less than the number of hours they normally would work so it will be OK to cut their pay proportionately.

4) But now we come to Catch 22 (even in Wonderland there are catches). If a non-exempt worker puts in more than the hours specified, the FLSA requires that they be paid overtime. So, if the goal is to reduce everyone's pay, these workers not only have to be told that they only have to work fewer hours: they must be kept from exceeding that number of hours lest they trigger a legal claim for overtime. And that is the source of the guideline that tells us we cannot do any kind of work as well as the requirement that people must certify that they did not work.

In Wonderland all this seems very sensible. But isn't it based on an impossible thing? The FLSA's tests for which status one falls in are objective. One is exempt if one has a certain type of training and does a certain type of work and it doesn’t matter whether the employee is paid on an hourly or salary basis. So since the nature of our education and our work hasn’t changed, and merely putting us on hourly pay for this period cannot affect our classification, how can the state reclassify us as non-exempt?

To answer that, I refer you to Humpty-Dumpty:

When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."
(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)

126 comments:

L. E. Lee said...

Given that you average tenured law professor barely works fifteen hours a week this should not be a problem. :)

former law student said...

An exempt person must be paid their full salary for any week they work, however many hours they actually put in.

An idiosyncratic reading of the Act. Exempt people don't have to punch a clock; their employer can change their salary at any time.

Pogo said...

Ludicrous, yet perfectly consistent with state-run enterprises everywhere.

Now extend this thinking nationwide, onto a national healthcare system.

Multiply the czars involved, and their directives. Mix well.

Are we having fun with statism yet?

Original Mike said...

I don't mind the pay cut. What I mind is the hypocrisy. I will be working those days, just to keep up. I'll just have to lie and say I didn't. Meh.

TosaGuy said...

Okay, lets make it easy. No furlough but take a straight 3.5 percent pay cut. All problems solved.

Welcome to the real working world.

L. E. Lee said...

Also, this directive is not designed to protect down trodden tenured law professors. Instead, it is to protect support staff who may feel pressured to work off the clock.

former law student said...

No furlough but take a straight 3.5 percent pay cut.

Yes, but Prof. Althouse can (should/may/must?) take sixteen days off over the next two years. Finding things to do with that unexpected free time should be easy for a newlywed.

Ann Althouse said...

@L. E. Lee I think you are right, but the problem is how are we supposed to accommodate to the plan. Is the real message that we are supposed to lie, as Original Mike says?

Ann Althouse said...

@fls I don't think we get to pick the days!

Der Hahn said...

Are exempt-for-FLSA employees of Wisconsin also covered by some sort of collective bargining agreement? Avoiding breaking the agreement would probably be a better explaination than torturing the FLSA statue. I'm also under the impression (from a layman's study of the issue when my gf's employer was attempting to use the 'comp time' dodge to avoid paying overtime) that the classifications are inherent to determining the applicability of FLSA. An employeer doesn't get to sprinkle magic pixie dust on someone and declare them exempt/non-exempt.

AJ Lynch said...

Speaking of czars, how many does the Obama admin have so far?

I saw a blurb on Fox News (?) last night and it showed what looked like 30 photos of the various czars.

SteveR said...

@fls I don't think we get to pick the days!

Spontaneous is good, no?

Original Mike said...
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Original Mike said...

@fls I don't think we get to pick the days!

I think the UW has picked 4 campus-wide furlough days (like the day after Thanksgiving), so you and Meade should pencil that into your calendars. The other 4 are up to you.

TitusIsReadyForTheWeekend said...

My sister works for the state and has to take two weeks of unpaid time off.

When working for the government, as opposed to for profit organizations, these things may happen.

I am all about for profit.

L. E. Lee said...

Professor Althouse, I don't think the focus here is on faculty who already pretty much decide when they will work. Instead, the focus is on making sure that those who have power (faculty and administrators) over those who do not have the same work place autonomy (support staff) do not apply inappropriate pressure.
Yes the directive seems "one size fits all." But would you like who ever wrote it waste a lot of time coming up with a more detailed one so that some bored tenured law professor did not get another opportunity to make it all about him?

halojones-fan said...

And remember: This is all the result of years' worth of bitter battles between unions and management. These crazy, convoluted regulations are intended specifically to protect employees and make their lives easier. This is what collective bargaining and union representation gets you.

chuck b. said...

You are supposed to lie.

It's funny to hear state employees whine about these things when it's been the case in industry (for all my working life) that you are supposed to be available to your employer and to do work for them when you are sick or on vacation even though that is against the law.

Get with the program.

L. E. Lee said...

Also, if the directive was highly detailed covering every contingency then you and some of your regular commenters would be trashing it for being overly bureaucratic. Professor Althouse, will you at least acknowledge that the person whose job it is to administer this program is in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation?

I have solved this problem for myself-I am a self-employed small business person. I work all the time.

TitusIsReadyForTheWeekend said...

My sister is an IT person at the State of Wisconsin. She has been there forever.

She gets to retire at like 55 with full pay for the rest of her life.

Not bad.

L. E. Lee said...

Also, how predictable and dreary is it that this professor does the Alice in Wonderland shtick. Didn't see that one coming. Would it have killed him to expend at least a little energy and try to be a tad bit original in his narcissistic bellyaching?

Original Mike said...

You're exaggerating, Titus. She doesn't get full pay. Pensions are capped at a percentage of full pay (I think it's 70%).

Jim said...

The whole discussion here misses the larger point: what was the alternative to the furloughs?

My guess was that, state budgets being what they are, the choice was between laying off staff and furloughs to close the budget gap.

The furloughs are an attempt to make sure that everyone kept their jobs. I would simply suggest that those who are against furloughs take a vote amongst themselves to find out how many of them are willing to "take one for the team" and lose their jobs so that the remainder don't have to get furloughed. Then the discussion over how the state had to structure the furlough in order to create a workaround in an otherwise untenable situation would be over immediately.

It's tough times, and it sucks. But I don't think quibbling about a detail here or there should take away from the larger reality of what the alternative was/is.

The irony here is that I would guess that a majority of those affected were Obama voters who still refuse to admit what kind of economic disaster his policies are creating. And just think, we don't even have cap-and-trade or ObamaCare yet! Yippee!

Maybe next year it won't be just furloughs but actual layoffs. Sadly, I won't expect that will open many eyes either.

rhhardin said...

I managed to get a bureaucrat to fill out my timecards, so I never see them.

That's a favor in return for working more or less all the time, which is not hard if your hobby is also your job.

Der Hahn said...

And for LE Lee and Alpha...

You're telling me that the people running Wisconsin state government aren't going to follow the rules to the letter and might force their employees to work without pay?

I thought only heartless Republican plutocrats (and ACORN) did that.

AJ Lynch said...

Most pension plans take the average of your last 4-5 years salary to calculate your lifetime pension check.

That is why so many govt employees maximize their overtime hours in the years just prior to retirement; it fattens the golden pension goose even more.

I bet the governor has already figured out how to work around this calculus so the WI state workers don't get penalized.

Henry Buck said...

It's always an Alice in Wonderland experience when people with sense and initiative bump up against paternistic laws like the FLSA.

EDH said...

Maybe I'm missing something, but why wouldn't the "furlough" be scheduled to take place during the summer break, at least for the professors?

TosaGuy said...

"The irony here is that I would guess that a majority of those affected were Obama voters who still refuse to admit what kind of economic disaster his policies are creating"

Most of them also voted for Jim Doyle.

Badger Down Under said...

Trubek's not whining - he's pointing out the stupidity of the legal contortions required to implement the furlough policy. This compounds the complete idiocy of requiring furloughs for people who are on federal or private funding. This is not the UW's fault.

On my furlough days, I plan to live blog my reading of the American Political Science Review. The prospect of facing disciplinary action for working is just too delicious to pass up.

Bring it on.

L. E. Lee said...

Badger Down Under
"On my furlough days, I plan to live blog my reading of the American Political Science Review. The prospect of facing disciplinary action for working is just too delicious to pass up."

Wow, a Rosa Parks in the making. You go girl!

garage mahal said...
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garage mahal said...

The irony here is that I would guess that a majority of those affected were Obama voters....

So you're guess is that people with higher education would be more apt to vote for Obama? Why would that be?

Original Mike said...

The whole discussion here misses the larger point.

The larger point is ceded. Discussion of the implementation is off limits?

L. E. Lee said...

Reading the "American Political Science Review" is punishment enough for you. Maybe you can do a regression analysis to demonstrate Professor Trubek's hypothesis?

knox said...

All that long explanation is really unnecessary. It was created to avoid lawsuits--just like 95% of the confounding stupidity, expense, and red tape we all encounter in our everyday lives.

She gets to retire at like 55 with full pay for the rest of her life.

Not likely. State pensions are going bankrupt all over the place.

I've always been a puzzled that gov't workers get such early and posh retirement. Why are the benefits for gov't jobs so much better than what the vast majority of us (who actually are paying them) receive?

I worked briefly for UT when I was a student there. The workers were (almost without exception!) lazy, discouraged Lifers. The office life centered around what to order for breakfast, then lunch, then trips to the vending machine and/or the convenience store. My boss literally emptied her IN box into mine every morning. It galled me that I was paying them--as a student and as a taxpayer. What a depressing place.

Original Mike said...

I would simply suggest that those who are against furloughs

Who here said they were against furloughs? Straw men are beneath you, Jim.

Original Mike said...

So you're guess is that people with higher education would be more apt to vote for Obama? Why would that be?

Not me, baby. Not me.

rhhardin said...

I think the proper literary authority is Catch 22, not Alice in Wonderland.

LarsPorsena said...

"So you're guess is that people with higher education would be more apt to vote for Obama? Why would that be?"

No, the point is more people who 'work' in higher ed voted for BO.
He simply bought their votes by promising to help get their collective snouts deeper in the federal trough. Comprendez?

John Burgess said...

Back when the federal gov't did furloughs some ten years ago, I was assigned to an embassy overseas in a senior position. I was not permitted to be furloughed due to work expectations. Yay for me.

What was confounding was that I could not voluntarily not work to enable my American staff to continue working, even part time. As that staff was certainly capable of covering the work--as they had to to whenever I took leave--it seemed singularly small-minded to inflict personal hardships on them, but not the bosses.

AJ Lynch: Foreign Service pensions are based on the last five years' base salary, not including overtime, allowances, hardship, or danger pay.

rhhardin said...

So you're guess is that people with higher education would be more apt to vote for Obama? Why would that be?

Who work in higher education.

Jim said...

garage -

"So you're guess is that people with higher education would more apt to vote for Obama? Why would that be?"

Not even close, garage.

I'm guessing that people who are safely ensconced in positions outside the pressures of private enterprise and, therefore, feeling that full impact of disastrous economic policies are the ones who are the ones most likely to vote for them or who indeed might benefit from confiscatory policies. For example, government employees (at all levels), union members, members of academia, and those already receiving government assistance constitute the overwhelming majority of the "Democratic coalition." Gee. I wonder why that is?

Now there is much gnashing of teeth that such policies might actually affect them too. I have a great deal of difficulty feeling a huge amount of sympathy for any economic pain they experience given the glee with which those groups like to impose their social engineering on everybody else.

Maybe a little "sharing of the pain" might open a few eyes as to just how bad the policies that they vote for year after year really are. I'm not holding my breath, but one can hope.

Nice try though, garage. Hang up and dial again. You've reached the wrong number.

Jim said...

Original -

"Who here said they were against furloughs? Straw men are beneath you, Jim."

I'm not saying that you're per se against furloughs; however, the reality is that this discussion seems to boil down to whether or not you're going to have to/need to/want to work on a "furlough day" without any examination of what the realistic alternative was to having furlough days at all.

If I'm mistaken, I'm happy to be corrected.

garage mahal said...

Oh, ok. Odd that were talking about these same higher ups getting furloughed though. Anyways...

Original Mike said...

...without any examination of what the realistic alternative was to having furlough days at all..

Again, that examination has not ocurred because the point is ceded; furloughs are necessary.

Original Mike said...

cont>

or, rather, salary reductions are necessary. "Furloughs" are the hypocritical vehicle by which the salary reductions are implemented. That implementation is the discussion.

AJ Lynch said...

Knox asked:
"Why are the benefits for gov't jobs so much better than what the vast majority of us (who actually are paying them) receive?"

Once upon a time govt jobs paid way less than the private sector. So they got rich benefits for being public servants. Now govt jobs, on average, pay way more than the private sector.

AJ Lynch said...

John Burgess:

WI is not in America? :)

My comment was a general observation. I suspect it is still accurate for most city jobs and state jobs.

T J Sawyer said...

So here we have a law professor who suddenly takes an interest in the FLSA since it might affect his paycheck. Here is a truly abominable set of laws that affect almost everyone who works. "Arbitrary", "close to indecipherable" would be kind adjectives to apply to the section defining exempt and non-exempt categories.

The professor should say "who would impose this crap on an employer" - and then take a good look in the mirror!

We don't need parody, we need people in positions of some influence to tell the legislatures to "knock it off."

OldGrouchy Doug Wright said...

It's actually quite a shame that Wisc. doesn't have "Bunny Ranches" like Nevada! Then, the Gov. could say to "Ranch" employees: "No F'ing around on your days off!"

Jim said...

Original Mike -

"That implementation is the discussion."

I responded before seeing your previous post ceding the point. My bad.

My question then is: would a straight salary reduction have been preferable, or are there other benefits which are contingent upon the base hourly rate of pay or other considerations which would make furloughs actually more beneficial to employees?

Alternatively, if furloughs are the best alternative, then is there an alternate implementation which would be preferable given the strictures within the state had to work in order to go down this road in the first place?

D-Day said...

I recall reading about a case like this a few years ago. Legal secretaries were staying until the job got done instead of clocking out at five. It was undisputed that they were not required, that they were told to leave, at five, and that they were told before they stayed that they wouldn't get paid any additional time for staying late to catch up their filing. Then they sued under FLSA and won.

I don't remember all the details of the case, but I refer to it about twice a week when I tell my secretary that she HAS TO go home. Under the ruling, if you don't want to pay them overtime but the worker won't stop working, you have to fire them.

Original Mike said...

The professor should say "who would impose this crap on an employer" - and then take a good look in the mirror!

Yeah, the irony seemed pretty strong to me, too.

LarsPorsena said...

On the distant horizon:
The unsustainability of public pension systems. See CA for an example of what's coming to your state.

Jim Hu said...

In California, some faculty are proposing a solution that involves closing the other campuses in the UC System. Not surprisingly, this is not universally popular.

John said...

I've taught compensation management since 1982. As I understand the FSLA it is pretty black and white. If you meet certain fairly simple criteria, you are non-exempt. If you do not, you are exempt. I know of no way you can be switched from one to the other unless your job description and pay has changed pretty radically.

Also, as a professor, you are "exempt" from FSLA on several grounds (Pay level, supervision, hour tracking etc). Exempt meanas that FSLA does not apply to you and the school can do whatever they want to you. Tell you to take off 3% of your time and cut 3% of your salary. Tell you to take off 10% of your time and cut 50% of your salary.

There may be some state law, school policy or labor agreement but absent that, it sounds like they have no idea what they are doing.

Which is pretty much your point.

John Henry
www.changeover.com

TosaGuy said...

"On the distant horizon:
The unsustainability of public pension systems. See CA for an example of what's coming to your state."

I want a study done showing how many with gov't pensions in WI move out of state in search of a more favorable tax climate once they retire.

Original Mike said...

My question then is: would a straight salary reduction have been preferable, or are there other benefits which are contingent upon the base hourly rate of pay or other considerations which would make furloughs actually more beneficial to employees?.

I'm not sure. They've stated that pension and other benefits will not be reduced, but I don't know if the "furlough method" is instrumental in doing that. I think, in fact, it is not. I think they just decreed that outcome (I've been told they did this furlough method years before and that the work needed to change records to keep people from losing benefits was a massive headache.)

I don’t blame the UW administration for doing what they had to do to satisfy the law. My beef is with the burdensome, hypocritical strictures placed upon us all by our overseers (ah, legislators). But most of all, it ticks me to have to lie.

Beth said...

"Furloughs" are the hypocritical vehicle by which the salary reductions are implemented. That implementation is the discussion.

My understanding is that a furlough is preferable because it is finite. A furlough this year addresses this year's budget problem, by reducing the cost of salaries by X percent - the salary cut affects employees only for the duration of the furlough. Once the budget returns to balance, salaries are no longer affected.

LarsPorsena said...

"There may be some state law, school policy or labor agreement but absent that, it sounds like they have no idea what they are doing.

Which is pretty much your point. "

State governments are in a financial crisis. Joblessness amongst the the great unwashed is double digits.
Meanwhile, the academics quibble, cavil, and pettifog about a minor adjust to their sinecures.
Which is pretty much my point.

Beth said...

Jim Hu - I foresee that solution spreading. Most states have too many little colleges in towns easily within driving distance to larger universities. I expect to see that happen in my state.

HoTouPragmatosKurios said...

I think John and Former Law Student are right. Exempt employees can simply have their salaries cut under the FLSA. The furlough contortions, if they are only a byproduct of the FLSA's commands, should apply only to non-exempt employees.

Does Prof. Trubek anywhere explain how and why he thinks it is only the FLSA that is driving the contortions? Does, for example, Wisconsin's own wage and hour statute have idiosyncratic requirements that apply?

Roux said...

Don't worry Ann it will get worse. They are going to turn us all into clock punchers and clock watchers.

kate@warrenandkate.com said...
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KLDAVIS said...

Wage-hour litigation/rules are so mind boggling. I don't understand how a company could put so much power into the hands of its employees. Just think, if you all come back from the furlough and claim you worked the entire time, the state goes bankrupt. They are staking the health of the state economy on your integrity, or your willingness to lie. I guess they assume that you don't want to be fired, but still...that's a bit liability to just assume everyone is going to go along with the plan. A sort of modified prisoner's dilemma.

bagoh20 said...

"Are we supposed to lie?"

This always ends up being the result of over-lawyering anything, and Labor law is way past over-lawyered.

Lawyers simply force people to lie. If I hit you with my car, I can't even say "I'm sorry" to the victim of my mistake - a fellow human, maybe even a neighbor.

Well done again my friends. I think we may all be better off if some disciplines take a little time off.

Also consider yourself lucky. In my industry roughly half of the workers are out of jobs and the remainder are accepting paycuts over 20%. Your situation is nirvana.

XWL said...

TosaGuy above: "I want a study done showing how many with gov't pensions in WI move out of state in search of a more favorable tax climate once they retire."

I don't see how you could disentangle pensioners leaving WI for tax climate reasons from pensioners leaving for states like FL and AZ (which also have lower taxes along with better winter weather) for mere climate reasons.

SteveR said...

Gee after thirty years in the workforce you'd think I would be aware of an alternative to just getting laid off/downsized/let go?

I always thought "leave without pay" meant you are going to leave without pay. Usually followed by something about not letting the door hit me in the ass.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Floridan said...

I want a study done showing how many with gov't pensions in WI move out of state in search of a more favorable tax climate once they retire.

You can start looking here in Florida, but my guess is that the winter weather is a much bigger factor than the taxes.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So you're guess is that people with higher education would be more apt to vote for Obama? Why would that be?


Because people in 'academia land' tend to be latte sipping tassel toed liberals who are insulated from real work, real life, and are into group think having no contact with anyone outside of their bubble. They got their higher education in a liberal bubble and they continue to live in a fantasy land.

Some of the dumbest people on earth are teachers and academics. I rarely will take a teacher as a client unless they are in the hard sciences or are engineers. They view their portfolios as some sort of political statement instead of a tool to accomplish their goals. They refuse to make any intelligent decisions and no matter how simply you try to explain basic concepts to them, they just don't get it. THEN when their stupid decisions create chaos in their portfolio, somehow it is my fault. Sheesh. They have no concept of economics or action/reaction consequences. They are hopeless and to a man/woman they voted for Obama

knox said...

I have to echo DBQ's sentiments above. A friend of mine recently quit her job at a university to start her own business. God love her, little to no clue what the real world is like. And no aspect of life is too insignificant to be couched in identity politics. I am worried for her and hope she learns fast.

An interesting aside, she is a devout liberal and for universal healthcare. But she has refused to see TennCare patients in her private business. (!!)

Baron Zemo said...

Pray tell dear lady will you also take a furlough from blogging as well?

One can only hope.

Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha.

TosaGuy said...

I said: "I want a study done showing how many with gov't pensions in WI move out of state in search of a more favorable tax climate once they retire."

XWL said: I don't see how you could disentangle pensioners leaving WI for tax climate reasons from pensioners leaving for states like FL and AZ (which also have lower taxes along with better winter weather) for mere climate reasons.


Perhaps not, but the impact of those pension dollars not spent in WI is the same regardless of the reason why someone leaves. If still in WI, they would pay property taxes, sales taxes, buy stuff, volunteer in the community, play with their grandkids......it is conceiveable that when the boomers are all retired, all the ones with means will have left WI, leaving only those who need some sort of assistance. Combine that with the pension obligations of the state.....massive budget problems at all levels of gov't in the state.

LarsPorsena said...

Instead of furlough call it unpayed sabbatical. There, makes it all better.

Shanna said...

Also, this directive is not designed to protect down trodden tenured law professors. Instead, it is to protect support staff who may feel pressured to work off the clock.

Bingo. I remember co-workers saying that if you worked additional time one day and didn’t ask for overtime, you could then go back later and sue for pay for that time, even though your employer had not asked for it or known about it.

John Stodder said...

In California, the governor has the power to furlough state employees unilaterally in the face of a fiscal emergency. He does not have the power to cut their pay. That would require the legislature, and the legislature here is owned by the public employee unions, literally. Hence, employees are being furloughed as much as 20 percent of the time.

Perhaps a similar dynamic is at work here. At all costs, employees' rates of pay cannot be touched even in the most dire fiscal emergency because that would set a precedent weakening the employees' legal right to their negotiated salary and benefits. If they're going to be paid less, they have to work less.

Pogo is right. This kind of thing is what's in the offing if national health care passes.

Original Mike said...

it is conceiveable that when the boomers are all retired, all the ones with means will have left WI.

I intend to stay. Though if taxes get too onerous, I will leave.

Jim Hu said...

Beth, the problem with shutting down the other schools is that they're in someone's legislative district. Kind of like the defense contractor strategy of making sure they have subcontractors in as many congressional districts as possible.

Also, we're talking about UC Schools here... none of them are that small, IIRC, except UCSF, which is a Med School/Grad School grants money-maker, and Merced, which is brand new.

EDH said...

Russian Communist leader endorses Obama's economic plan

Smilin' Jack said...

This means that even if you are at home you are not supposed to read professional material, get and send emails, make calls, use a smart phone, etc. Employees who violate the work ban can be disciplined.

I don't think Trubeck gets to the full Wonderland quality of this.

Any time you do what your employer tells you to do rather than what you want to do, under the coercion of "discipline," you are working. The only way to obey an instruction not to work is to work. If you don't work, you are following your employer's orders, and hence you are working.

XWL said...

TosaGuy replied to my reply of his earlier comment: "Perhaps not, but the impact of those pension dollars not spent in WI is the same regardless of the reason why someone leaves"

To his reply of my reply, I reply thusly:

That's why all states and nations shouldn't pay pensions and other benefits in cash, instead they should issue scrip of some sort that is non-transferable out of the area of issuance.

If WI-Pension Bucks could only be translated into goods and services within Wisconsin's borders, than they wouldn't be funding the easy living (without benefitting from, in tax form, their spending) of former state employees as they enjoy the sunset of their lives in sunnier climes.

In Southern California, it's easy enough to know for certain that the folks spending their pensions outside of SoCal are doing so primarily cause we are an over-taxed, over-governed, under-serviced mismanaged cautionary tale of a place that should function to warn off saner places form adopting too many liberal policies.

Original Mike said...

The only way to obey an instruction not to work is to work. If you don't work, you are following your employer's orders, and hence you are working..

Norman, coordinate! (smoke pours from ears)

Pogo said...

So tell me, someone, anyone, how governments that enact and then follow these kind of labor rules are going to manage health care better than private industry?

Here's how:
1. Doctors and nurse and janitors and all sorts of clinical assistants will unionize and then strike.

2. Their work will be codified to the second and to the dime.

3. Doctors will follow every rule to the letter. Work will stop at 5pm no matter what you are doing. Next shift takes over.

4. When budget money runs out, no more appointments or surgeries are offered (Canada does this), and the MD has several weeks off at the end of the year.

5. Paperwork will mount and mount and mount.

I myself will enjoy the enforced 20 minute break every 4 hours that I currently do not have, the 1 hour lunch, and 40 hour work week. I will stop talking at 5 pm, just like the good rulebook says.

Oh yeah, the patients?
Too bad.
Get in line.
Take what you get.
Pay your taxes and shut the hell up.

John Burgess said...

XWL: Tying pensioners to the state in which they worked is a true step toward the Gulag. In itself, it is unconstitutional. We have a right to move and live wherever we like (and can afford).

It's worse than the way HMO coverage can nail people to one city or region because it would be done by the state.

Luckily, as a federal employee, I was able to chose what state I call home.

AJ Lynch: Don't forget that federal employees also pay income tax--even while abroad--so they pay part of their own salaries (and those of all other federal employees) too.

Kev said...

The furloughs are an attempt to make sure that everyone kept their jobs. I would simply suggest that those who are against furloughs take a vote amongst themselves to find out how many of them are willing to "take one for the team" and lose their jobs so that the remainder don't have to get furloughed. Then the discussion over how the state had to structure the furlough in order to create a workaround in an otherwise untenable situation would be over immediately.

It seems like there is a simpler solution here: Lay off a large number of useless bureaucrats and keep people in the productive class at work. Then you've performed a very necessary liposuction on the state budget and saved a whole lot of money.

dick said...

Garage,

The reason the highly educated would vote for Obama is that only the highly educated would believe his shtick. The ones who voted for him and were not highly educated are those who will only vote for Dems because their parents voted for Dems. The ones with common sense did not vote for the Kool-Aid Kid from Chicago and Hawaii.

Jason (the commenter) said...

If they are going to treat people like hourly workers, they can't tell them what to do on their off time.

I would strictly follow the list of things the say not do, on the days they say not to do them, and then sue them for wages.

If you perform the tasks they request you should get paid for it!

dick said...

Pogo,

That scenario is somewhat like what is going on in the EU. The EU is trying to tell doctors and nurses how long they can work. In Britain it is causing problems because some of the NHS stations are not getting fully staffed leading to more and more people not getting the care they are supposed to get by British law. The EU supersedes the British law when it comes to that.

AJ Lynch said...

John Burgess:

Fed employees pay taxes? I agree but don't understand why you pointed that out to me.

Pogo said...

"they can't tell them what to do on their off time."

If the State sez so, yes they can.
Just watch.
That's what statism means. The state owns you. The state calls all the shots.

This is just the beginning, a first taste of what it'll be like.
Like it so far?

vnjagvet said...

Trubek writes:

Everyone at The University of Wisconsin will have their pay cut by about 3% and will be “furloughed”—told they do not have to work—for a corresponding period of time. But it turns out that we not only don’t have to work, we are being told we cannot work. The guidelines ban any kind of work during furloughs, anywhere. This means that even if you are at home you are not supposed to read professional material, get and send emails, make calls, use a smart phone, etc. Employees who violate the work ban can be disciplined.

Under 70 year-old precedents interpreting the "hours worked" provisions of the FLSA, all hours which an employer "suffers or permits" an employee to work are "hours worked" for all purposes of the Act.

These precedents often come into play in lunch hour cases in which an employer fails to pay for lunch hours in which employees work at their desks while eating during their lunch hour. Employers are subject to pay back pay for all hours worked in such a fashion for a period of two years (three in case the violation is "willful"). If those additional hours mean any employee worked more than 40 hours per week in any work week, such employees are entitled to additional back pay for all hours over 40 per week at the rate of 1 and 1/2 their "regular rate" of pay.

For employees exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Act, the "hours worked" issue has no relevance. But for those not exempt from those provisions, a ton of potential back wage liability could accrue. No employee paid an hourly rate (rather than a salary) can be exempt, no matter what position they hold. IOW, a professor, if salaried, is exempt, and if compensated hourly, is not exempt.

I suspect the folks who wrote the guidelines did not want to take any chances on this kind of potential problem, so banned work for both exempt and non-exempt employees thinking that many do not know their proper status under FLSA.

Mr. Trubek's real "beef" is with the hypertechnical FLSA, one of the great new deal reforms of the thirties. If a law professor sometimes gets confused or puzzled, it is small wonder that small and entrepreneurial businesses often become confused and incur liability under FLSA.

TosaGuy said...

"That's why all states and nations shouldn't pay pensions and other benefits in cash, instead they should issue scrip of some sort that is non-transferable out of the area of issuance."

That is probably the way the statist WI gov't would look at it. I would rather see the state of WI reform its taxing environment so people with means to leave will want stay in the state under their own volition.

L. E. Lee said...

vnjagvet wrote
"If a law professor sometimes gets confused or puzzled, it is small wonder that small and entrepreneurial businesses often become confused and incur liability under FLSA."

I am a small retail business owner with 24 employees. It is not that difficult for me to understand. In fact they make posters that outline the law.

I am involved in many small business groups here in Madison and I only know of one case were a small business has run into trouble. A restaurant on Park Street was not paying overtime. They deserved to be dinged.

Follow the law, no problem.

L. E. Lee said...

vnjagvet wrote
"If a law professor sometimes gets confused or puzzled, it is small wonder..."

Concerning the real world I would not assume that is indicative of anything.

Ann Althouse said...

" EDH said...
Maybe I'm missing something, but why wouldn't the "furlough" be scheduled to take place during the summer break, at least for the professors?"

Lawprofs are on a 9-month salary. We are off and unpaid for 3 months every summer.

knox said...

It seems like there is a simpler solution here: Lay off a large number of useless bureaucrats and keep people in the productive class at work. Then you've performed a very necessary liposuction on the state budget and saved a whole lot of money.

LOL!! really, LOL. I mean, I agree, but when has government EVER cut bureaucracy?? Their policy is to cut emergency services, and the like, first, so that they can essentially blackmail us into higher taxes.

John Burgess said...

AJ Lynch: Apologies. You were quoting Knox, to whom I should have directed the comment.

Beth said...

Beth, the problem with shutting down the other schools is that they're in someone's legislative district.

Jim Hu - you can take "shutting down the other schools" and just replace it anytime, with any pragmatic solution, to almost any problem. Let's just call that X.

Kev said...

LOL!! really, LOL. I mean, I agree, but when has government EVER cut bureaucracy?? Their policy is to cut emergency services, and the like, first, so that they can essentially blackmail us into higher taxes.

Well, yeah, what I said qualifies as a LOL in terms of what governments actually do; I'm just saying that such a thing would be the right thing to do. (I don't expect it to happen until enough voters get sick of the way things are now to kick the current occupants to the curb.)

vnjagvet said...

LE:

I commend you for following the law.

My first job out of the Army was with a national labor law firm. About 1/3 of my practice was making sure small and medium sized businesses all over the country were complying with FLSA adn defending those the DOL or individual employees claimed violated the Act. I inspected or defended about 100 businesses in the four years I worked for that firm. Over the next 40 years, I defended another 20-25 businesses in FLSA claims. I can count on one hand the number of businesses that were in complete compliance with FLSA and did not face some potential back wage liability.

In all but a very few instances, I uncovered violations of the act subjecting business owners to substantial potential back wage liability. Just one man's experience, but I don't think compliance is as easy as you imply.

Jim said...

Beth & Jim Hu -

"you can take "shutting down the other schools" and just replace it anytime, with any pragmatic solution, to almost any problem. Let's just call that X."

If there were any seriousness at all to doing "the right thing" by government officials, then they would implement something like the "Base Closing Commissions."

The "Base Closing Commissions" were convened to make recommendations as to which military bases could/should be closed in a post-Cold War era. They were bi-partisan, and were able to complete their work with a minimum of back-biting.

Then members of Congress were essentially presented with the option of an Up-or-Down vote on the whole package without the option to carve exceptions. It provided cover for legislators whose home districts might lose a base: "Hey I didn't have a choice."

Something like that could work on both a state and federal level if there were any seriousness at all in dealing with the structural problems, but the reality is that we're nowhere near that yet.

We can dream though, right?

Daryl said...

Althouse, do you have a First Amendment claim for being told that you are not allowed to study or communicate regarding certain issues?

knox said...

Kev, sorry, I really didn't mean to direct the LOL at you. I have expressed the same sentiment many a time.

So much waste... but they never cut the waste, do they? Unfortunately, it seems the people who decide where the cuts are to be made are likely the very bureaucrats we want booted.

L. E. Lee said...

Question for vnjagvet,

Were these businesses careful to follow the law? (As we should be careful to follow all laws including traffic laws.) Or were they tip toeing up to the legal line hoping not to get caught? As I wrote earlier, I know many small and medium size business owners (probably close to a hundred) and not one of them has complained about FLSA.

L. E. Lee said...

Also vnjagvet,
I can not shed too many tears for businesses who owe back wages. It seems that the employees are the ones who got the shaft.
I expect my employees too work hard and do a good job representing our business to our customers. For that I will make sure that I am in compliance with labor law and that they get every cent that they have rightfully earned.

gbarto said...

Let's say you just got tenure last year. That gave you just enough financial security that you and your wife felt ready to start a family. Since your budget for babysitting just talk a hit, you're staying home with your six-month old. Meanwhile, Althouse is making a big show of working without pay. When the two of them go to the department for discretionary travel funds next semester, how's that work out?

In the private sector, I've seen managers increase people's job tasks while denying them overtime. You want the raise? Show your commitment. You want a promotion? Show your commitment. You want to keep your job? Don't get caught working unpaid overtime, just get the job done and make me look good.

I know the professors love what they're doing and don't see why they shouldn't be able to make a contribution. But the bottom line is that once you "allow" people to work for free, you create a situation where other people will feel like they also have to "take advantage of the opportunity to serve" if they want to compare favorably, only they may not be in the same place in their lives as far as family and finances are concerned.

Don't think of Althouse forced to sit home. Ask yourself if you've ever had or known of a boss who would point to an Althouse and intimate that maybe some other people will also work for free if they know what's good for them. That why while this is idiotic, it's also necessary.

PatCA said...

Wow, over 100 comments, on furloughs?! But I've been busy all day, preparing to be furloughed.

This is my second experience with furloughs. The "guidelines ban any kind of work during furloughs, anywhere" language is a CYA action. If you fall and break your ankle while you're working at home, they won't be liable.

It worked out fine and will work out fine again. Half the time in an office is water cooler time anyway. Furloughs beat layoffs; and state union rules are so complex and cumbersome that nobody wants to "go there." The world would probably explode.

Yes, Pogo, God help us if this system is applied to medicine.

vnjagvet said...

LE asks:

Were these businesses careful to follow the law? (As we should be careful to follow all laws including traffic laws.) Or were they tip toeing up to the legal line hoping not to get caught? As I wrote earlier, I know many small and medium size business owners (probably close to a hundred) and not one of them has complained about FLSA.

Most were trying to comply. If your workforce is primarily paid hourly, it is pretty easy to comply -- pay at least the minimum wage and 1 and 1/2 times the regular rate for all hours over 40 per week. But what about a commission paid employee or one paid on a piecework basis? Do you have any idea what the DOL regulations say about those categories? How about an apartment manager who is on call 24 hours per day, and whose compensation includes a furnished apartment?

If you have a handle on those situations, you get an A in FLSA compliance. I'll bet you a steak dinner that no more than 5 of your 100 small business acquaintances know the answer to those questions, which are just scratching the surface.

T J Sawyer said...

"I know many small and medium size business owners (probably close to a hundred) and not one of them has complained about FLSA."

Well, consider this: "The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has estimated that more than one-half of employers have incorrectly classified employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). " from SUSAN E. PRINCE, J.D.
Legal Editor, Business & Legal Reports.

Those non-complainers just have never had the honor of a DOL audit. And what does it take to get you into a DOL audit? Exactly one complaint from a disgruntled current or former employee.

L. E. Lee said...

vnjagjet wrote
"But what about a commission paid employee or one paid on a piecework basis? Do you have any idea what the DOL regulations say about those categories? How about an apartment manager who is on call 24 hours per day, and whose compensation includes a furnished apartment?"

If you are going to pay people on commission or a piecework basis then it would be wise to make sure you know the law and follow it. If you can't figure it out then seek outside help to make sure you are not breaking the law. The law is there for a reason.
I have an accountant and a lawyer (who I rarely need help from) who make sure I am dotting my "i"s and crossing my "t"s. That is the price you pay for having a modern economy. You have to follow the laws.
I follow the laws and I would expect my friendly competitors are doing the same and I am glad there is a referee in place to keep everyone honest.

Crimso said...

"But the bottom line is that once you "allow" people to work for free, you create a situation where other people will feel like they also have to "take advantage of the opportunity to serve" if they want to compare favorably, only they may not be in the same place in their lives as far as family and finances are concerned."

Dead on. As with Althouse, I have an academic year appointment. If I take a graduate student(s), which is pretty much essential to get enough research done for tenure and/or promotion, these students register for research hours during the summer. I am expected to continue to direct their research, even though I am paid absolutely nothing for that time and effort. During the academic year, those research hours figure into my workload calculations. In short, in order to be looked upon favorably for tenure and promotion, you must graciously donate at least some of your summer time to the university. Since my predecessors in the department have had to do it, I felt like I had to do it (they vote on whether I get tenure and/or promotion). Since I have effectively been forced to do it, less senior (untenured) faculty in my department will feel the same pressure. The net result is that I am becoming less and less inclined to take graduate students and do any research at all. Oddly enough, my workload (as calculated by the university) will change only minimally. The only consequence is that I will never be promoted from Associate to Full Professor. That, and I will only do the amount of work the university absolutely requires me to and not one quantum more. Being tenured is kind of like having a powerful union, only instead of being paid more than you would have without the union you get paid 1/3-1/2 of what you would get in industry (this is in science, mind you).

Crimso said...

"During the academic year, those research hours figure into my workload calculations."

To be clear, "those" research hours refers to those the students register for during the academic year. I am not exaggerating in the least when I make the statement that we are expected to work for no pay during the summer if we want to have graduate students (i.e., if we want to have any shot at tenure or promotion).

vnjagvet said...

The question is, LE, do your lawyer or accountant know the technicalities of FLSA. Most of my referrals came from lawyers or accountants.

Of course, from reading your comments, I understand you have some strong views on this subject. And you are quite confident that your good intentions will steer you right. The question I have is whether your experience is typical of the nation's hundreds of thousands of small and mid-sized businesses. My guess is that it isn't.

Penny said...

"Mr. Trubek's real "beef" is with the hypertechnical FLSA, one of the great new deal reforms of the thirties. If a law professor sometimes gets confused or puzzled, it is small wonder that small and entrepreneurial businesses often become confused and incur liability under FLSA."

Vnjagvet is dead on the money with this comment and every comment thereafter.

For those who don't need to work with this law, just think IRS. If they want to "get you", they surely can.

Also think, when it's time to justify their existence, they surely can.

Penny said...

To Althouse and other professors or teachers out there...

I am amused by the creative math that is routinely used by people in your profession.

When people call you out for making too much money for 9 months of work, you divide your annual salary by 12 and then talk about how you are underpaid in comparison to private sector professionals.

When you talk about just how much furloughs are going to take out of your pocketbook, you will divide by 9 to up the percentage of income lost.

Discussions about "working" during those 3 months only brings out the private sector's violins, because they have LITERALLY been working full time hours those additional three months, PLUS overtime hours that are needed to get the job done.

Penny said...

My final thought on this is one I have voiced before. Furloughs ONLY make sense when the negative financial outlook is seen as "short term". The fact that states are using furloughs to save money in one of the worst financial periods we have seen since the great depression is indicative of government's absolute break from reality. Couple that with the future debt this administration wants to incur, and I would say that we are looking at a government that is insanely out of control.

Jim said...

Penny -

"Furloughs ONLY make sense when the negative financial outlook is seen as "short term". "

I have to agree with this assessment 100%. Utilizing furloughs rather than either permanent staff reductions or permanent salary reductions only ensures that we're going to be having these exact same discussions next year too.

I don't know of any sane economist who thinks that this time next year tax revenues will be higher than they are today. Every forecast says the pain is going to get worse before it gets better which means that most of the budget numbers that the federal and state governments are working with are fictions to begin with.

Come January or February, we should all be ready to hear the wails and cries coming from statehouses across the country that "revenues are below expectations." But they're only low because the government projections were complete fictions to begin with.

Bruce Hayden said...

I also agree with those last posters who are suggesting that the furloughs are being utilized to keep from doing what the private sector has already done, and is continuing doing, which is layoffs. The goal apparently is to maintain government headcounts through the hard times.

Combine this with the fact that in a lot of states, notably CA, benefits and head counts were significantly cranked up during the last boom. The idea seems to be that government employees, their pay, and their benefits increase during the good times, but are protected during the bad. The problem is that this has a ratcheting effect that is not seen to nearly that extent in the private sector (except, of course, in some union shops).

Bruce Hayden said...

The original post reminded me a bit of when I was working for a French based firm in the U.S. Apparently, when the French govt. implemented a shortened (35 hour?) work week, those we would consider exempt continued to work their normal hours. That defeated the intent of the law, so working more than the 35 or so hours a week was made illegal.

My problem is that I have been effectively exempt, since I left the U.S. govt. thirty years ago (1979). And, as such, I don't have a lot of sympathy for any of this. ("Effectively exampt" because some of it has been effectively commission work or self-employment).

former law student said...

The idea seems to be that government employees, their pay, and their benefits increase during the good times, but are protected during the bad.

Agree 100%. Schwarzenegger tried to cut the power of the public employee unions, and end gerrymandering, back in 2005 (Propositions 74 to 78). But the firefighters and the nurses ran negative ads every night opposing them. They all went down.

He saw the problem coming, but the people did not want to take corrective measures.

Crimso said...

"When people call you out for making too much money for 9 months of work, you divide your annual salary by 12 and then talk about how you are underpaid in comparison to private sector professionals."

People who call me out for making too much money for nine months of work know little about what my other career options provide in the way of salary. Divide by 9, divide by 12, I don't care. People in positions in industry quivalent to mine in my area of specialty make 2-3X what I do per year. We are given the opportunity to teach a summer course and receive extra pay. But they just can't seem to see it as fair to pay me for directing graduate student research during the summer, when they do pay me for it during the academic year. If you let them, they will take advantage of you. If I had a union, say like the longshoremen do, I'd be making what longshoremen make (hint:it's more than I make now, calculate it as 9 months or 12, whichever you want).

As to furloughs (and job cuts), are they planning on furloughing students or capping enrollments? Of course not, they're paying. So if they're paying, why is there a budget problem? Because tuition only covers a part of the cost of operating the university. That's why tuition is skyrocketing (and has for some years now) but professors' salaries aren't. Either the state is shirking on their commitment to higher education, or there is way too much being spent on administration (I think it's both).

And the commenters who have no sympathy or respect for the plight of the professor with the cushy job have obviously never traveled that career path. I did what amounted to a 17 yr apprenticeship (after high school) to be competitive to apply for my faculty position, much of it paying rather than being paid. In other words, I sacrificed (a lot). I realize I have a pretty good job, bitching notwithstanding, but I think I more than deserve it and its perks. People who would bitch about me leaving on a particular day at 3:00 wouldn't ever think of unbitching when seeing me spend an entire Sunday grading exams (or, for that matter, working for free during the summer). I suppose it's understandable that people would be jealous of my job, just don't treat me like it was simply handed to me. I would never repeat the career path I've followed, nor would I recommend it to anyone else.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And the commenters who have no sympathy or respect for the plight of the professor with the cushy job have obviously never traveled that career path. I did what amounted to a 17 yr apprenticeship (after high school) to be competitive to apply for my faculty position, much of it paying rather than being paid.

No one is disputing that it takes hard work to achieve a professorship...especially in your field.

The lack of sympathy is from those of us who also have worked hard to get where we are and who have no steady paycheck or cushy benefit package. So if you (general you not you specifically) whine about having to be furloughed yet still receive the basic securities of your jobs, you are whining to deaf ears.

By my own choice: I'm a self employed financial advisor (investments, insurance, financial plans). EVERYTHING I earn is on a commission basis or fee for advisory basis. Given the recent economic melt down, you can probably assume the effect on my income. If I don't work.....I get nothing. I don't have an "employer" paid insurance plan or anyone contributing to my retirement. My income is erratic and unreliable.

It took a lot of education and credentials to be qualified for what I do and I have to continually update my credentials at my own expense.

I didn't take a vacation or more than 3 days in a row off for the first 5 years of my independent practice because I was building my business. Even today I rarely leave for more than 5 days including Holiday weekends because my business is stock market driven.

My husband is also self employed in a plumbing/water systems/well pump business and if he doesn't have jobs to do....he also doesn't get paid. Often he works 7 days a week because people who need their water restored or have other emergencies can't wait until he gets back from furlough. We can't even have Christmas without being "on call" for emergencies.

In the winter he may go for a month or more with just a very few small jobs to do. No insurance because he is ineligible with pre existing conditions so we self fund and pray that nothing serious happens.

We have to carefully manage our income for the highs and lows. Sometimes I make a lot in commissions, thousands of dollars in a day or in an hour or two (and it took me years and years to be able to do so). Other times not so much. Some of my hubby's well jobs are in the thousands of dollars after materials (and he works damned hard for that money) There is NO certainty that we will get income at any point in time. So cry me a river about being off for 3 months and working on a 9 month income.

Boo hooo for you government workers who are forced to take some time off and still keep your jobs and benefits.

We are both self employed by choice and love it. We took the risks and still take the risks. I'm not whining about the ups and downs. They are part of the job. I'm just irritated that those of you who have the guaranteed income, the government and employer paid benefits are being such freaking big babies about taking a small economic hit.

Boo freaking hoo.

Now I'm off for a whole day and a half vacation so I won't be responding. Gonna go to the "big city" and buy stuff at Costco and go out for a rack of lamb dinner. Woo hoo.

PatCA said...

As an employee of the state let me just say that most employees are not complaining about the furloughs. The unions are, but they don't represent employees, anyway. They are in the business of redirecting money from our paychecks into Dem campaign coffers.

I went through this in 1992, and the cuts did become permanent, through attrition and reorganization. Only the political favored programs grew, like the "advisory boards" of out of work pols making $150K/year for doing nothing, or the stem cell researchers.

State colleges have closed admissions, let adjuncts go, and professors and administrators will take the cut. This will become permanent too. There's no way to overheat the economy anymore; the housing bubble is over, the immigration rush is over too. It's a shock for someone newly hired or in a previously untouched class like Trubek, I guess, but not to the rest of us.

Skipper50 said...

Interesting how a regulatory-freak law professor/lawyer can complain about ludicrous, inconsistent, incomprehensible policies. Welcome. prof., to the modern state.