Saturday, April 16, 2016

WIU announces 110 more layoffs

Western Illinois University has announced 110 layoffs, bringing the total number there to 160. Western had also successfully encouraged 59 staff to retire early as of the end of 2015.

The university had hoped to achieve some $4 million in savings from furloughs negotiated with campus unions, but was unable to reach agreements with most of them. The head of the WIU faculty union was quoted as saying the following:
"By putting faculty and staff last on his list of priorities, President Thomas is shortchanging our students, who are already being shortchanged by our Governor, who refuses to fund their college dreams.”
I do not know the details of the failed negotiations at WIU. Contrast EIU, where the faculty union (from the same parent union, UPI/AFT) agreed on a deferred pay plan to save the university some $2 million.

Some remarks on our own situation after the break.

Contrast both EIU and WIU with SIU, where the administration is bargaining with unions over contracts (and doing so in good faith, unlike last time around) but is not talking to the FA--or anyone else, as far as I can tell--about furloughs. Instead it looks like NTT layoffs and cuts to GA funding are the plan. I speculated earlier that this was due to furloughs being toxic after their illegal imposition by Cheng, but that's pure speculation.

Furloughs and deferred pay schemes are not a happy solution; and they are only a short-term response. But the utter lack of state funding is, deo volente, short-term. And furloughs and deferred pay don't result in cancelled courses, lost graduate students, and maimed programs. They can be shared equally, whereas other cuts will impact those departments which happen to rely the most on NTT faculty and GA's. And they obviously have a dire impact on the individual NTT and GA's involved. That's presumably why Eastern and Western started with furloughs.

The other point—in addition to not talking about furloughs or deferred pay—is that while we're in a statewide crisis,  differing campuses are reacting in different ways, and the differences not only driven by different finances. At EIU the faculty union and administration managed to work together; at WIU they did not. We'll be better off if we manage to follow the EIU model.

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