Monday, February 02, 2009

Forbidden Furlough

All things budgetary continue to be rather exciting in my school district.  Frankly, half of us don't know whether we are coming or going and I mean that in the most literal sense.

It started several months ago.  The superintendent informed us via email that there were some rather nasty cuts in funding coming and that things were going to get tight.  After much consideration, he and the assistant superintendent decided that furlough days for staff were the answer to this impossible situation.  He visited each school and explained (very, very well) how this would work.  The impact to students would be negligible, administrators at the highest level would take the bulk of the cuts and there was hope we would all survive with our jobs intact.

Okey-dokey.  Send me home.  I'm OK with that.  It's not ideal, but better than unemployment.  Bring on the furlough days!  We're only talking two of 'em and they are scheduled over half days anyway.  We'll make up the staff development requirements later.

However, this represents a rather significant change in our contracts so the teachers union needed to be involved in the decision.  Our duly appointed representatives sent out an email assuring us that they would look into this situation and that our best interests would be sheltered.  "We believe there is another way to do this!" they cried.

Things got quiet for a while.  Apparently there was a great deal of thinking going on.  Finally, the union said:

We are still thinking.  But we are certain that there is another way.  Yup.  It's right there on the tips of our tongues...

The office of the superintendent responded quickly:

Why yes.  There is another way.  Two ways, in fact.  We call them Plans B and C.  In plan B, we implement a Reduction In Force (a RIF) and all these nice people go home for a very long time without paychecks.  Plan C is a little different in that we RIF other people instead of the first group we mentioned.  See?  We have plans.  Oodles of them!

The union rose up and declared:

We must think about this for even longer now!  How can you not see that there is another way?


I believe I know where the union was going with this and think that they might have been onto something.  However, they never really put anything into actual plan-form so who knows?  We sure didn't.  Hence, it was not really all that surprising when the union membership overwhelmingly voted to approve the furlough days rather than go home and eat dryer lint until the paychecks started coming again.

We all started making plans for our upcoming half day off.  It was set for February 4th.  Then the union reminded us:

The vote only allows us to negotiate the furlough days.  Nothing is set in stone, you silly people.  No go home and wonder about it.  That'll take your mind off all the worry...

So we did.  There wasn't anything else we could do.  Some of us probably should have used that time to cancel the appointments we made for the half-furlough day.  But we didn't because we knew that if we did, we'd be sitting at home on Wednesday afternoon wondering just what to do with ourselves and unable to afford therapy because of the furlough-day-pay-cuts.

Today (Monday, the 2nd) we received word that we will be working the full day on Wednesday.  It is a half day for students and the staff development is back on schedule.  Yay for the full paychecks!  Boo for not being able to plan for anything because of all the thinking, discussing and negotiating.

Don't even get me started on the worrying part.  The fact that the union could still vote down the furlough days and cause an avalanche of lay-offs is something I do not wish to contemplate.  My job is safe at this point.  But I can't imagine doing it without a planning period since there will be no Globals like art or gym.  And what the high school students are going to do about college applications once the Guidance offices close down is a question for the ages.

I'm thinking of taking the afternoon off anyway.  All this pondering and voting has left me weary.  I've taken naught but one sick day this year and have saved enough to make the spending of one negligible.  And, as I've mentioned on several occasions, my job is safe.  No one wants it.  Unemployment would be preferable to most.

We'll see.  But don't be too surprised if, come Wednesday's noon hour, you find me sitting at home and spending some quality time with a certain "dishcloth"


The one with the sleeves...


SA

12 comments:

Kath said...

From what you've said in the past about your wonderful job and the darling children you are privileged to spend your days with, I would have to say that yes, your job should indeed be safe!

But I agree, you might want to take a half day off anyway. Personally I think you should do it on a day when the dear kiddy-winks are there for a full day. Just so the powers that be can truly appreciate you...

Mel said...

On the other hand, have you ever tried eating dryer lint. There's always a chance you could find that you like it.

trek said...

Blech. Dryer lint. What a thought.

I think the Dishcloth looks so pretty there in its natural white yarn-ness.

Julie said...

I can see from here that you're coming down with something. I doubt you'll be able to work much more than another day and a half before succombing to this terrible illness and need to go home!

Lovely dishcloth you've got there.

kmkat said...

This RIF thing is really silly. After the former employees are gone, those In Command are likely to find that they cannot operate with the reduced force and thus must hire temporary replacements, which can easily end up costing more. Ask me how I know...

=Tamar said...

I don't recall the guidance officer in my high school being of any use to anyone anyway; rather the opposite, in fact. Luckily the school principal had the talent to be a good guidance officer and the power to do something useful. The sick day sounds like a good idea, especially if you are sick enough to have made an appointment.

Mia said...

OH my! Is that what I think? But sheepie... I don't think there's enough yarn for such a masterpiece? Maybe sleeveless?? ::crossing my fingers for ya::

Karen said...

The dishcloth is coming along nicely.
My husband did the RIF thing in the 90's. I don't recommend it.

Anne said...

Sometimes it's great to be indispensible, yes? Maybe? My fingers are crossed they can all just get through this current "discussion" period with the admin and union people, and just let y'all do your jobs and get paid to do it.

Knitting Linguist said...

Oy. This sounds familiar, in the worst possible way. I hope the union comes to its collective senses with regards to the relative merit of reduction in pay vs no pay at all. Meanwhile, it sounds like a day off is just what the doctor ordered.

Jeanne said...

Good grief. I hope they vote in the best interest of all concerned. The worrying is no fun, though. The upside would be more time to spend with the Dishcloth That Isn't and the Kitties of Varying Proportions. And as you well know, just about anything, including dryer lint, tastes better when drenched in cheese or chocolate.

debsnm said...

Now, aren't you glad you have a union? They're about as helpful and responsive as the federal government. Hooray for unions!