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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Forced furloughs upset some faculty

    Clashing opinions between some faculty members and UA administration emerged after the announcement that mandatory five days furloughs are likely for each University employee.

    Former Arizona state legislator and Arizona Research Labs professor Theodore Downing spoke out against the current furlough plan and said there are more effective and sensible alternatives to bring in funds to the UA.

    He said the university should consider a plan called “”deferred compensation.””

    According to Downing, deferred compensation or forced savings, is a better option than implementing mandatory furloughs.

    The plan would require state employees at the UA to agree on a set amount to take from their salaries and donate to the state. The legislature would then vote on an appropriate time to pay the University employees back.

    Downing said this would reduce the overall budget of the University while not permanently affecting employees.

    He said “”a lot”” of the University faculty are too intimidated to speak up for themselves in opposition of the furloughs.

    “”For some of our staff, who won’t speak out because they are afraid they will be cut – they are afraid if they say anything they will be the one that gets chopped,”” Downing said. “”It’s scary out here.””

    Downing said the furloughs are being met only with hushed opposition because people are worried about saving their own job.

    “”They are going to cut 400 (employees), maybe you would accidentally get the axe,”” Downing said.

    At Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting, President Shelton said the five-day furlough plan would be the best option for employees because they would not be required to take five days off in a row, but would be able to take them whenever they want.

    Shelton said that although the furloughs are a tough decision to make, the only fair way to implement them is straight across the board.

    Downing said that the Arizona State University “”progressive”” furloughs plan is better laid out than the UA furlough plan.

    “”The progressive system, or progressive furloughs, are when some employees take larger (cuts) than others based on their salary,”” Downing said, “”I think the ASU system is probably a fairer distribution than a straight across the board furlough. The ASU system varies with income.””

    This means the furloughs are based on salary and create a more equal distribution of funds, Downing said. The most important factor of the furloughs is trying to have a more proportionate distribution of funds.

    “”I think it should be progressive, I think the employees that earn in the six figures should give more. The pain is not proportionately distributed,”” Downing said.

    Shelton said it would be too complicated for the university to start making boundaries and personalizing the furlough process.

    “”This is not a delay tactic in order to make strategic cuts. You have to keep in mind the magnitude of the problem we are dealing with,”” Shelton said. “”I’m not sure people in this room have that idea. I’m not sure people in this University have that. I say that with all due respect. We are looking at the potential of losing 30 percent of our state budget.””

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