WTF, UM?


I just got an email from the president of the University of Minnesota. They’re going to ‘compensate’ us for the efforts we’ve made.

Throughout the most fluid, uncertain, and challenging days of the global pandemic, you have consistently responded with an unequaled focus to serve our students and support your colleagues. Your personal and professional excellence is undeniable and your sacrifices have been significant, including for many, a reduction in pay.

As a gesture of our appreciation for your service and commitment, we have proposed, and the Board of Regents has since approved, a one-time plan that would award each of you two additional personal holidays that may be used at any time through June 30, 2022. As a result, all eligible full-time employees will receive two days added to their paid time off inventory, and all eligible part-time employees will receive time away proportional to the hours they work. Faculty and P&A staff on 9- and 10- month appointments who currently receive personal holidays will receive this additional time away.

This time is effective for any employee on active payroll as of December 6, and it also follows a similar approach to that used by a number of our peer institutions. You will be able to find this noted in MyU, within your “My Time” tab effective late Monday, Dec. 20, 2021.

I extend my sincerest appreciation for everything you’ve done for our University these past 20 months and all you will do in the weeks and months ahead. I hope you are able to use these days to relax, recharge, and reflect on the difference you have made in the lives of our students, your colleagues, and our great state and beyond.

I’m happy for the staff who will benefit, but I had to screw up my eyes to try and interpret what this means for me. I have a salaried appointment. I do not currently receive any personal holidays. I won’t get any extra days to relax. I will not get any extra pay. The university is giving me…diddley squat, and similarly, nothing to all the other regular faculty.

I think I’m insulted. I sure don’t feel grateful.

Comments

  1. John Morales says

    Aren’t you an employee on active payroll?

    I do not currently receive any personal holidays.

    To my Australian sensibility, that’s just plain weird.

    Still, even if you don’t get any right now, surely you still get two days more than none.

    I’d bring it up, for sure.

  2. WhiteHatLurker says

    This Canuck agrees with the Aussie – WTF? (To borrow a phrase.)

    You’re expected to be there 365 days (or 313 to keep one of the Sabbaths pure)?

  3. rabbitbrush says

    “University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel’s new contract immediately increases her base salary from $650,000 to $660,000, with another raise bringing it to $706,000 by the start of the next fiscal year on July 1 .”>

    You need to have a word with your university prez. Maybe she could spare a few bucks.

  4. bcw bcw says

    No as salaried, his hours are set by his conscientiousness towards his work and students. This is worse than getting no days off.
    Then again, if he was a self-involved jerk he could avoid doing any real work for quite some time – teach an evolutionary psych course or something. Or, even worse, he could become an administrator.

  5. says

    There are holidays, of a sort: Thanksgiving, Xmas, spring break, that sort of thing. But I already get those. Telling me I get two extra days off is meaningless, because I can’t escape my obligations to teach when classes are in session (if I just announced that I’m cancelling class some Thursday & Friday, I’d get yelled at by the administration, I guarantee you), and all of the existing holidays are pure fiction anyway. If I’m not in class, I’m preparing for class, or grading, or doing committee work, or maybe, on rare occasions, doing research.
    Classes are over right now, you know, but I’m still wading through exams, and the U has given me a deadline of the 22nd to get everything done. What does 2 free days mean? I could wait until the 24th to turn in grades? It doesn’t make any sense.
    I have heard rumors that in the outside world there are things like paid vacations. I don’t even know how that would work in my universe.

  6. xohjoh2n says

    I get the usual “bank holidays”, which is 8 days per year, which almost everyone (except retail) gets over here in the UK. On top I as part of my contract I have 25 days discretionary allowance, which I can take whenever I want with sufficient notice. The final result is 365-(52*2)-8-25=228 working days per year. Salary is paid pro rata assuming those values, so month to month not actually dependent on any time taken off. This is fairly normal for salaried UK folk – hourly paid don’t do so well.

    Teachers also don’t do so well because they’re expected to do prep outside paid hours. I’ve no idea why they actually accept that given they’re more unionized than a lot of sectors in the UK…

  7. garysturgess says

    Even in Australia the rules are slightly different for teaching. I don’t the exact rules for university professors (except to note that the university working year starts later and finishes earlier than the school year, which is in turn shorter than the working year of most of the proletariat – as it should be, teachers work damn hard!) but my wife is a former high school English teacher and she never got the standard 10 days paid vacation per year. (She did, of course, get the school holidays off – but as PZ notes, at least part of that is prepping for the next semester/grading/whatever. Teachers at all levels work way harder than I ever have).

  8. Bruce says

    Your faculty senate should ask the admin to ask their legal counsel whether the promised extra two days off should mean cancelling two days of class, or getting a pay bonus like two sick days in cash. It should be one or the other. Or does your local admin want your faculty senate to tell the UM statewide admin that the Morris admin disrespects them? Does your local admin mean that this should mean nothing for faculty, but that the local admin officers still get two days off? At my college, this would mean to cancel two days of class, and just talk faster the other days to make up for it. Just record next semester’s lectures and play them back 5% faster until you have saved two days. Or end every class 10 minutes early, until you have saved two days for yourself. The statewide admin can’t pretend faculty are some insignificant part of their employees.
    I bet the admin would say: Of course, we never meant you couldn’t cancel class for two days. It’s up to you.
    Or, ask your HR office for the proper form for filing a request in advance for two days of paid personal time off per the UM directive. For the them to either give you a form or to give you an official statement that HR doesn’t care what the UM says. They’d rather you take off two days.
    Or just do the procedure for sick leave, because you’re sick of UM admin jerk games, for two days.
    Good luck.

  9. Bruce says

    If you tell a class on a Tuesday that that class is cancelled on Thursday, and also tell any student who missed the Tuesday class, I think no students would show up to check on you, and I think none would try to report you to your chair or dean.

  10. grandolddeity says

    No Good Deed shall go unpunished.
    Unintended consequences.
    Uniform magnanimity.
    It can be like trying to solve a Bonghard Problem.

  11. R. L. Foster says

    My wife is a professor at W&M so I asked her what it would mean to her if she got two extra days off. I could tell right away by the confused look on her face that she was having trouble processing what I had just said. So, I explained what I had read here. She is a very organized and logical person, and it took her a moment to come up with a coherent reply. Her response went something like this: I get summers off. Every 7 years I go on sabbatical. That’s a whole year off at 80% pay. Technically I get weekends off, but that’s not really true because of all the course prep and grading I do. I don’t have to go on campus during breaks, but I often have to go in anyway for meetings. And I have Zoom meetings with students and colleagues that I do from home. Just when would these two extra days be? I told I didn’t know. Could you skip classes two days in mid-semester? She laughed. Yeah, right. Get the dean’s permission to cut class? I don’t have much sympathy for students who cut class, so I’m not going there.

    In the end she said this sounds like administration bullshit. Tell this PZ guy to ask for a pay raise instead. (PS. She has no idea who you are.)

  12. PaulBC says

    The main change to time off in recent years is that employers don’t bother tracking accrued time anymore. They pretend like it’s to make things nicer for the employee, but the main benefit for them is they don’t have to cut a check for unused PTO when you switch jobs.

    It certainly hasn’t encouraged me to take more time off. I do not work nearly as hard as PZ but my “performance” is linked to what I accomplished in a quarter, not how many hours I clocked. I take time off when I have a reason, which is usually determined by my kids’ schedules. I should take more time off to travel, and maybe would be at this point, but the pandemic kind of puts a damper on it.

  13. PaulBC says

    Teaching has got to be the most labor-intensive and thankless task I can imagine, at least with an advanced degree. I have a lot of respect for those who do it, but I can’t really wrap my head around how they manage.

  14. tacitus says

    I get the usual “bank holidays”, which is 8 days per year, which almost everyone (except retail) gets over here in the UK. On top I as part of my contract I have 25 days discretionary allowance

    The fact that salaried British employees typically get 25 days vacation a per (plus bank holidays) comes as a bit of a shock to Americans, who are used to starting at only 10-15 days a year whenever you start a new job, even if you’ve have 30 years experience in the industry. It certainly was to me, when I came to the states, though fortunately my job was with the same company I worked for in the UK, so they made an allowance for time served, and I started at 20 days (10 years service).

    From my experience, vacation days were pretty much non-negotiable too. If you wanted more money, they would take, but more days off to start with? Nope. You want more days off? Wait for five years.

    Once, in the middle of a big time crunch when it was all hands to the pump to get a product out the door, we were gated on some work that had to be done by our colleagues in the UK. It was the day before a long Bank Holiday weekend over there, so people were already taking off to head for the seaside (quaint British pastime even when it’s still in the 50s in May), so it was a tense conference call between my management (up to executive level) and theirs. I still remember the incredulous looks on my bosses faces when UK management held firm and flat out refused to bring people back in over the weekend to work on the issues. “That’s not how we do things over here,” they said.

    Sadly, in the intervening 25 years since that moment, things have definitely gotten more like the US, but at least employee protections are still considerably better and the vacation allotment has held firm, even if time crunches are more commonplace these days. Much of that was thanks to EU regulations, and of course, post-Brexit, everything is up for grabs, regardless of all the empty promises of the pro-Brexit brigade.

  15. xohjoh2n says

    @16 Time crunches do happen, but I’ve always worked for both companies and managers who were prepared to explain the urgentness of the situation, and offer up front equivalent time off to make up.

    Once I was even told, pp, “this needs to be delivered to the customer at 10am tomorrow, so if you need to pull an all nighter tonight to get it done you can take the next week off.”

    (And I’m sure they would have understood and accepted “that’s just not possible”, as it happens, it was.)

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