Coffee heat rising

Unemployment for Christmas?

Rumor has it that a big announcement is coming down: along about mid-October, the PtB (Powers that Be) will announce that everyone in my job classification is to be laid off. That’s a lot of layoffs, even for a gigantic learning factory whose student body is larger than the entire populations of most of the state’s counties.

The jobs in question are so poorly paid that all Our Beloved Leader would have to do is cut the six-figure salaries of his trophy hires by 5% to make up the part of the payroll that goes to the likes of us.

The rulebook that governs the university’s operation specifies that employees in this category have to be given 90 days notice of nonrenewal or dismissal. Conveniently, if O.B.L. makes this announcement on October 15, our time will be up on the last day of the semester, December 15. This will keep the donkeys in harness until they finish their current round of plow-dragging.

I’ve already found a job to apply for: $15,000 a year less than I’m earning, but at least it’s an income, and the place is only about five or ten minutes from my house. Truth to tell, I could cheerfully forego 15 grand to be free of the hideous commute to lovely downtown Tempe. Last night the freeway was gridlocked; plodding home across the surface streets into the glare of the setting sun took well over an hour. Besides, GDU will owe me $17,500 in tax-free severance pay, to be doled out over three years. A third of that sum added to the proposed new net annual pay will add up to a larger net than I’m now taking home.

Plus the coveted new employer pays ALL your health insurance, AND it offers a “cafeteria plan” that gives you an extra $600 to put toward three pay-it-yourself plans…one of which is a flex plan. So in other words, if you want the flex plan, you don’t have to pay for it out of your regular salary. And, interestingly, instead of automatically taking 7% out of your salary (and matching it) for a 403(b), this outfit offers a simple IRA for which 3% is deducted…leaving you with dollars to put into your own Roth IRA.

So, weirdly, even though the gross pay is lower, the net may be about the same or even higher, with or without the extra income from GDU’s good-bye gift.

It remains to be seen whether this rumor is true. This evening at the Arizona Book Publishing Association shindig, we sat at the same table with a GDU colleague who was privileged to attend our Dean’s meeting with the chairs. She reported that Her Deanship announced, as she had promised to do, that our office is seeking a new client journal.

If our dean’s boss is about to can me, which will shut our office down, why is she telling the world we’ll take on new work? A very limited number of possibilities present themselves:

  • She hasn’t been told about the plan.
  • She is pretending not to have been told about the plan.
  • She doesn’t know what my job classification is.
  • They don’t plan to include me among the cannees.

None of those scenarios is out of the realm of possibility. In fact, they’re ranged in order from most likely to least likely.


Next week I’m meeting with my financial adviser to figure out how I can survive if I don’t get another job. This weekend I will fill out a job application, update the résumé, and write a cover letter, to be shipped off to the proposed new employer on Monday. And I will finish editing a freelance client’s copy, earning another $500 this month. The Copyeditor’s Desk is attracting a surprising number of clients—tonight I believe we may have picked up two or three more—and the truth is that we may manage to develop this business well enough so that neither of us will have to work for the university. Or for anyone else, besides ourselves.

The Continuing Saga…

1.Unemployment for Christmas?
2.Does any of this have meaning for individuals?
3.Rumors start to fly
4.On the trail of the elusive job
5.Beating the layoff stress
6. How low can I go?

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