Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Raises for Penn State Staff

After a string of puny raises during so-called "good times," Penn State leadership will offer staff no raises during the lean times we face.

"Penn State employees shouldn’t count on pay raises next year.

That was the message from President Graham Spanier when he spoke Tuesday to the Faculty Senate. He said he doesn’t want to rule out the possibility of pay increases and plans to watch closely what unfolds in the coming months, but he said such increases aren’t likely."

No doubt, we'll hear how "important we are to the University" and then hear off-handed comments that "we're lucky to have jobs" over the next couple months.

The University, which has gone on a decade-long spending and building binge, now decides the folks who should pay for it are the staff and students.

More on this later, I'm sure.


Elmo Wu said...

You have a point but it's far from the whole picture. Just as a painting by Seurat can't be appreciated by looking a single dot, the state of employees at Penn State doesn't mean much unless you look at all the others.

Wages have been falling as expenses rise for many years. It's important for employers to have a pool of unemployed people they can use to fill open positions. This helps to keep wage pressures down. In the meantime, profits are up for stockholders, CEO's and the rest of the upper 10% who have been seeing their incomes rise. Contributing to this is the clever way that people are tricked into voting against their own interests by riling up the hoi polloi over guns, guts, god, abortions, gays, the war on christmas, and all the other things that don't mean squat when it comes to putting a roof on your head and food in the refrigerator.

Non-profits, like Penn State, don't get a lot of money coming in except from donations, research grants, tuition, and whatever they get in returns on their invested endowment funds. And a little bit of tax money from the state. It's not like they have a big pool to draw from and, unlike the federal government, they can't just keep printing their own money.

Part of the bargain people accept when they go to work for non-profits is that they won't get paid as much as elsewhere but they will also not be as likely to be laid off when times get tough.

But it's good to start discussing these things. Maybe organizing staff and non-tenured faculty is a good idea and maybe it's not. A lot of things can be considered.

Manchild said...

I think the issue that Penn State is a poor non-profit is under-played. Penn State is a billion-dollar corporation.
I agree, too, it's time to discuss some options.
Being thankful for jobs, is one thing. That doesn't mean that we have been "given" anything. We work. We provide value. We're just as integral to the success of Penn State as buildings and football fields.
I think we--staff, non-tenured faculty--just need some type of representation. HR and all the other associations are really just mouthpieces.