The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

Furlough Follies: Cheng’s Misstep Worse than I Realized

with 5 comments

I’ve been posting about the upcoming furloughs all week. Initially, I was critical of five SIUC unions that have refused to cooperate with furloughs. I dubbed them the Foolish Five. As more information becomes available, my views are starting to change.

I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but I was disappointed with Chancellor Cheng’s decision not to take six furlough days herself, two more than other employees are taking. Wednesday’s Daily Egyptian had a quote from Cheng that I found shocking. In response to a question asking if she would take six furlough days, Cheng said:

“I’m not going to be putting my stuff in the coffer,” she said. “I could work for free for 10 years and still not make up the budget.”

Is she serious? She’s not going to put her stuff in the coffer? This is absolutely stunning. Cheng’s salary is approximately seventeen times the salary of the lowest paid staff at SIUC. She can’t take two extra days to contribute to morale and demonstrate her commitment to a fiscally responsible university?

Meanwhile, at least one SIUC union is advising its members that they may be eligible for overtime or compensatory time off because they will be working on an administrative closure day. If they’re right, some workers will take an unpaid day, while others either get extra pay or a paid day off.

I understand that SIUC faces a budget shortage, and that drastic measures may be necessary. But I am beginning to think it’s unwise for SIUC to proceed until all the unions have agreed to the furlough days. It may be time to cancel the November 24 furlough day and return to the bargaining table.

Unfortunately, some unions still refuse to even accept that there is a budget crisis. Perhaps if Cheng showed a willingness to go the extra mile and take two extra furlough days, the remaining unions might be persuaded of the reality of the budget situation.

SIUC should definitely not proceed with partial furloughs if the employees not subject to furloughs are going to get overtime pay or compensatory time off. SIUC should cancel the first furlough, settle these issues, and schedule a replacement furlough day in May after students have left.

Comments are welcome.


5 Responses

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  1. Hats off to Dr Poshard. Thumbs-down and rasberries to Chancellor Cheng for “keeping her stuff.” Many other SIU employees will not have the opportunity to buy “Stuff” over the holidays. (little stuff like rent and heat) The reduced pay will/can increase tension in personal relationships and possibly lead to divorce or something worse. She is showing very poor leadership choices and decision making ability when the solution has been offered and even her boss is showing by example how she should lead.

    wow, such cluelessness at such a high position is amazing. She’ll do her damage and leave like the rest of the useless carpet baggers who’ve been through here.

    lucy loo

    November 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

  2. […] a comment » Last week I wrote two posts (one, two) criticizing SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng for refusing to follow President Poshard’s lead […]

  3. […] Furlough Follies: Cheng’s Misstep Worse than I Realized Wednesday’s Daily Egyptian had a quote from Cheng that I found shocking. In response to a […]

  4. Actually, given that Cheng makes a bit more than $350,000 annually (including her housing allowance), she could close the budget gap herself were she to work for free not for 10 years but for a mere 7.5. No one would suggest that, but it is pretty clear that she took a furlough from preparing to answer the obvious question posed by Poshard’s willingness to take 6 days unpaid leave (not to mention the 10 days taken by top U of I administrators). And one would have thought that an accountant could have done as much math in her head. Her default mode seems to be to assume that her answer is the only answer.


    November 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

  5. […] management makes a lot of sense. I think Chancellor Cheng is serious about turning SIUC around. She stumbled a bit on the furlough issue, but she reversed herself. Cheng has also shown a willingness to remove […]

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