OSU faculty face mandatory furloughs

2009-11-20T02:15:00Z OSU faculty face mandatory furloughsBy Cheryl Hatch Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times
November 20, 2009 2:15 am  • 

Chris Van Drimmelen, president of the Associated Students of Oregon State University, stood at the front of a packed room of 200 and asked for consideration for OSU students and respect for his leadership.

OSU President Ed Ray stood in the middle of that crowd and asked for trust.

At Thursday's special meeting of the Faculty Senate, Ray's appeal carried - and so did the motion to accept a proposal for furloughs for all faculty, with grant-supported salaries excepted.

As for Van Drimmelen's point - it was the same one he raised at last week's Faculty Senate meeting: Decisions about faculty funded by student fees had to be vetted by the student legislative process. But as an ex-officio member of the senate, he had no voting power and asked for support. No one answered his call.

After more than 90 minutes of debate and discussion, faculty senators stood and raised their hands for a vote. The proposal was accepted by a vote of 86 to 17. Under the proposal, faculty members will have to take a minimum of three unpaid days and a maximum of 12, depending on their salaries and whether they're on nine-month or 12-month contracts.

"This is an unprecedented charge to the Faculty Senate," President Paul Doescher said when he opened the meeting.

"It's a chance for us to build trust. Remember: Trust goes both ways."

Little but the language changed in the proposal. Last week, it recommended pay cuts. This week, it proposed furloughs for all unclassified employees.

"The furlough program has some imperfections in its

administration," said Tony Wilcox, emphasizing that the primary objective of the furloughs was to preserve jobs. Much of the discussion attempted to address those imperfections. Several amendments were proposed, discussed and rejected.

A motion to refer the vote to all faculty members elicited some rancor.

"If you don't think you can vote on this, you should think about whether you should be faculty senators," said Bill Boggess, a past president of Faculty Senate.

Bill Lunch, chairman of the department of political science, suggested that people consider the message they would send to Salem, stating that some legislators perceive faculty as "disconnected, unrealistic, arrogant."

"All the choices are lousy," Lunch said, encouraging the senators to vote for the furloughs.

Van Drimmelen read aloud his Senate Resolution 69.01, which acknowledges the need to save positions and enact furloughs, but he asked that faculty who are funded by student fees be exempt from furloughs and that the Faculty Senate respect the student legislative process.

Van Drimmelen is an

ex-officio member and had no vote, so he asked any senator present to make a motion on behalf of the students; no one did.

The senators tackled issues of solidarity with the classified workers, whose union already brokered an agreement for two years of furloughs. The faculty have no collective bargaining entity.

Juan Antonio Trujillo, an assistant professor in foreign languages and literature, asked for consideration for the financially vulnerable faculty - those who make less than $20,000 a year. He offered an amendment that raised the floor of the bottom tier of the furloughs and raised the ceiling to take a higher percentage for those with higher salaries. It was voted down.

Last week, someone said he took a 20 percent pay cut and he asked not to be cut again. At that time, Ray said he wouldn't see a pay cut again. At Thursday's meeting, Ray referred to that promise last week, but added: "I don't actually know how to guarantee that."

But Ray suggested he had a sense of the issues "at the margins," referring, for example, to the concerns raised about the equity of the cuts, the need for more discussion and Van Drimmelen's point about using student fees. There will be time to deal with details as the process moves forward, according to Ray.

Van Drimmelen stood a fourth and final time.

"I'm sorry if people are getting tired of hearing me speak. My point is that incidental fees can't be used to close a budget gap."

Fatigue did prevail, Van Drimmelen said: "People were tired, and they wanted to get out of here. A mob mentality carried the final motion. I don't feel like that's leadership."

Kevin Schock, ASOSU vice president, said, "So many people are so wrapped up in that 3 percent cut. They couldn't hear the voice of 20,000 people saying no."

Leaving the auditorium, Ray stopped to speak with members of the American Association of University Professors, who had raised amendments and issues.

And he talked with Van Drimmelen and Schock. The ASOSU president said the OSU president assured him he'd refer decisions on student-fee funded faculty to the Incidental Fee Committee and ASOSU Congress.

Van Drimmelen asked for it in writing. And the president said he'd get it.

"I asked the Faculty Senate to hear us and they didn't," Van Drimmelen said. "But President Ray did."

Copyright 2014 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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