Mandatory time off

The Governor signed the furlough bill, which I had been expecting for some time. The only reason she hadn't signed it yet is because she was waiting on analysis from the budget office. As the bill reads, all state agencies have to come up with 10 days in which to either close operations, or find some other way to save an equivalent chunk of salary money.

How does this apply to me? Well, we're not sure. The University President sent a message out to all staff last week describing what this bill would likely mean for WWU. It means we'll have to come up with $1,172,000 in salary savings one way or another, and if we can't do that we'll have to come up with whole days in which we can shut down operations.

I say 'close operations' even though the bill exempts anyone in a direct teaching function, so in theory we could still teach. However, that's teach without any support staff what so ever, Some can do it, others can't, and if things break in any way they'll stay broken until the next day. Suffice it to say, we can't plan on teaching on the furlough days.

Can we even find 10 days to shut down? Our biggest target is the summer/fall intersession where we have four weeks of no teaching, followed by the fall/winter intersession that's three vacation-heavy weeks as it is. Winter/spring, and spring/summer are only single weeks and... we can't afford to take a mandatory day off that week; there is simply too much changeover going on.

However, as the President said, we may not have to find 10 days. Maybe only five. Or if we're lucky, none. Agencies have to come up with a dollar figure cut in personnel expenses, which will come in the form of furloughs if the agency can't find any other way to reach it. Lay-offs are an option. As are leaving positions open through retirement open for longer, eliminating already open positions, and work-hour reductions.

So while there was much complaining in the office this morning about this bill, the exact nature of the impact we perceive to our jobs is solely in the hands of the WWU budget process. And we just don't know what that looks like yet.