Coffee heat rising

Ax falls but…uhm…bounces?

Okay, folks. Hang onto your hats.

They gave me NINE. MONTHS’. NOTICE.

That’s right. I’m canned, but in the slowest of slow-mo.

They’re closing my office, but pretty clearly because they’re nervous about the faculty’s response (which will be stentorian), they’re “phasing it out.” They’re going to renew my contract at the start of the fiscal year (July 1), but only for six months. The editorial office is now slated to close in December.

My suspicion that they converted my assistant editor’s job from classified (nonexempt) to service professional (exempt)—behind my back, and without telling her—so that they could more easily can her was dead on. Classified staff must be given first dibs on any openings for jobs comparable to the one they’re being laid off from. This means there’s one job like it coming open and they want someone else to have it.

Dollars to donuts, that little maneuver is illegal: for a contract to be valid, both parties need to sign it, eh? I don’t think you can switch a person from a classified job to a contract job without bothering to let her know, which is what they tried to do. The only reason I found out was that a woman who either wasn’t too bright or wasn’t any too friendly to what they were up to telephoned and let me know. My sidekick now is aware—through me—that her job classification has been changed, but she’s never been offered a contract. Our business manager said that our offer letter isher contract, but the offer letter, as I recall, was for a classified position, not for a service professional’s contract.

I understand that lawsuits against Our Beloved Employer are sprouting like fancy mushrooms in Room Farm’s closet.

For me, this could work out well. Nine months will give me plenty of timeeitherto look for another job (ugh! not bloody likely) or to figure out how to extract a living from several income streams. The possibilities for Bumhood are rife:
Monetize Funny about Money
Market and expand The Copyeditor’s Desk
Put together the two books I have in hand, and sell the things
Line up a few university or junior-college courses to teach
Find a part-time job
Get Social Security started
Bunch up all my savings and start drawing down 4%, Bush economy be damned

The beauty of this is that my health care insurance is now covered. Nine months’ notice will carry through until the end of December, 2009. I turn 65 in May of 2010: only five months later. The cost of COBRA is being cut, so that the amount I will receive in vacation pay will easily cover five months’ worth, after which I’ll be eligible for Medicare. Six weeks’ worth of vacation pay will cover five months of COBRA and then some: I’ll have cash left over.

Medicare may cost more than the new, reduced COBRA, which could represent a problem. But I’ll deal with that when I get to it.
* * *

A huge typhoon of a windstorm is roaring around outside. Stuff is banging against the exterior walls and thumping down on the roof. Poor little Cassie, who’s scared of wind (she apparently thinks it has something to do with the supernatural), has been locked inside for eight or ten hours, and now she won’t go out long enough to do her Thing.

She was trapped interminably because I left the campus at 6:30, got stuck in perfectly hideous late rush-hour traffic, had to get off the freeway and make my way 15 miles across town on jam-packed surface streets. Went by M’hijito’s house to tell him what’s up; he took me to dinner, so the Cassie wasn’t rescued until after 8:30 at night.

This morning I took my unfortunate client’s corrupted file out to the powerful PC on campus and to my amazement contrived to save it. The computer actually broke into the defunct file! It tried to crash when I hit the corrupted table, but by then I was wise to things and had saved changes. Next time the file opened, I managed to surgically excise the suspect material, and from then on the thing worked OK.

I had to rebuild 2/3 of Author’s twenty-sixtables, some of them very complex. It took hour after hour after endless hour, wrapped around a meeting in which I was told I soon will be out on the street. The upshot of it is that even though I saved the client’s job and will get paid (I hope…), I’ve earned something less than minimum wage for my trouble. Oh well. It’s enough to buy a month and a half worth of groceries, so I’m not going to complain. Much.

13 thoughts on “Ax falls but…uhm…bounces?”

  1. I’m sorry to hear about the decision to close your office. I went through a similar situation at a state university a couple of years back. It’s not fun to see something you’ve invested yourself in being dismantled. I chose early retirement and have no regrets.

    Thanks for sharing the experience. Those of us with academic careers appreciate your accurate depiction. We’ve all known and wrestled with those people.

    Best wishes

  2. I actually checked you a few times yesterday to see what had happened. (I know, time waster.) And, as my superiors sometimes call me in without telling me why, and sometimes the reason is trivial…or actually good, I had a ridiculous hope that you were going to get some good, or at least neutral, news.

    Thanks heavens for all your careful planning. A lot can change in 9 months anyway.

  3. The big problem just now is that Social Security plus the shriveled remains of my savings will not support me over the long run. When I said I need to work — full time! — until I’m seventy, I wasn’t kidding!

    Free Money Finance has some interesting links and posts on monetizing a blog the size of Funny. I think that’s the first iron I’m going to stick in the fire. That and trying to hustle some p/t teaching jobs.

  4. Sorry to hear about your situation. My brother is a prof at the other big school in your state, and just gave notice after years of battling administrators.

    On the other hand, he also thinks that no one in the Southwest metro areas will be worried about income issues for very long–that soon water and fuel will become overriding concerns.

    You can check out his blog–if you want to scare yourself further–at

  5. Thank Frugal Scholar for pointing me here. Like her, I thought about you all this day…wondering what was unfolding in the dean’s office. I’m a full timer in English at a community college in the Kansas City area. Passed a 6 year evaluation with flying colors yesterday and still I’m nervous. The college is facing a big short fall next year, which promises to grow bigger the following year. No one’s reassurances that my job is secure satisfies me. If the axe must fall, I am far more expensive than the youngsters in the department.

  6. Wow – I go away for a couple of days and miss everything! I am so sorry to hear about both the layoff and the sleazebag tactics of your institution. You are correct about the change of exemption status, but unis do it all the time.

    Has anyone told her? You should just tell her to call and check her exemption status. Anyway, I have great faith in both you and your plan, but still this sucks.

  7. Hi, Chance–

    Yeah, I’ve clued her in. She and I need to talk next week…but it’s also possible they changed her so they could cut a contract that will keep her on until December. If the deans are planning another bloodletting of classified staff, that might actually protect her until the end of the year.

    Fact is, she earns more waiting tables at Applebee’s than GDU pays her to apply her master’s degree and considerable skills to our job. However, she’d like to retire from the waitstaff career.

    With any luck, this will motivate her to press harder on marketing our little editing biz. We just got another assignment from our medico-client, and I’m hoping he will get us in the door with the teaching hospitals around here.

  8. Clearly I’m reading your posts in reverse order. Should have worked my way forward instead of backward. I’m so sorry you got the bad news :(. I’m glad for you that you got enough notice to work on your plan and get things figured out. It’s been looming over your head for so long you may have everything figured out already but I’m sorry the ax finally fell.

  9. It’s annoying because I’d pretty well figured we’d escaped. All the cuts were made for FY 2009/10, and we were told the stimulus money would take the pressure off in FY 2010/11.

    But in retrospect, it confirms my suspicions that Her Deanship has known all along that our office was on its way out. That she resisted my efforts to recruit new client journals when we took on a third RA told me, months ago, that she didn’t want to promise our services to some faculty member (and the professional association behind his or her journal) only to yank the rug out. What I don’t understand is why they’ve strung us along for this long.

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