Coffee heat rising

Can your employer top this?

Comes the following from my sidekick, in the e-mail:

After the furlough and the new deductions they’re taking…I’m netting about $200/week. I’m going to do the bare minimum. It’s just not worth it. I’m going to have to find another job soon. I can’t live on this.

Think of that. This talented young woman, who in working 50% FTE for our office has handled not one, not two, but three scholarly journals (one of whose content is partially in Spanish), has a master’s degree from the Great Desert University and a set of highly sophisticated editorial skills. Tells you a lot about how GDU values its master’s programs, doesn’t it? And about how it values its employees.

Some time back, she remarked that she earns more in a five-hour shift waiting tables at Applebee’s than she does in a week at GDU. Now, I expect, she earns more in about two hours.

A week or so ago, she got a notice from PeopleSoft, the faceless contractor to which GDU has outsourced its payroll functions, to the effect that they’d just discovered that for the past year they’ve failed to withhold her required contributions to the state retirement system, which in this right-to-work-for-nothing state amount to 9 percent of the employee’s salary. They tried to blame this on her, claiming she had not gone to a “new employee” meeting when she was switched from graduate research assistant to classified staff (thereby incurring a large cut in pay) and so had not “elected” the mandatory retirement.

Say what?

In the first place, she was not a new employee. Having worked in our office doing the same work for the prior two years, she had no reason to think she was regarded as a “new” employee.

In the second place, classified state employees here have no choice of retirement plans. They are eligible only for the Arizona State Retirement System, a defined benefit plan, and they are required to belong to it, willy-nilly. There was nothing to “elect”! GDU and PeopleSoft should have automatically withheld her retirement contributions, as a matter of course.

GDU has pulled some nasty stunts on employees over the years I’ve observed it in action. I can’t say this one takes the cake. But it comes close.

It comes close because she is paid so frigging little in the first place that it’s insulting. Then to  confiscate practically her entire salary…it’s just inexcusable.

Is there any question why morale is in the sub-basement? Is there any question why the place is collapsing inward on itself? And is there any question why this city hosts therapists whose entire practices consist mostly of GDU employees?

No wonder I grind my teeth till they break.

If I could see my way clear to survive between now and Medicare eligibility, I would quit Monday morning. Let them find someone else to lead the sheep to the slaughter.

In fact, I probably could quit in September. Apparently you can claim COBRA if you can say the reason for your leaving is that the job changed enough to make it unacceptable. And as far as I’m concerned, this kind of treatment of my staff is unacceptable. At that time, the nine-month COBRA discount would carry me through to my 65th birthday. The combination of four sections in the community colleges plus the amount GDU would have to pay for my unused vacation time would amount to only about $1,495 less than my salary in the last quarter of 2009.

It’s something to think about.