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political heat for Lariviere for doing the right thing by the UO staff

10/13/2010: This article by Nigel Jaquiss below is one UO story I would really rather have not seen in the newspaper. For one thing it’s full of mistakes. For another it attacks the UO staff without any justification. This situation is not their fault, or Lariviere’s fault. It’s Kulongoski’s fault for going for cheap political advantage, on the backs of people making $12 an hour.

There are a lot of things that make me skeptical of Lariviere’s re-structuring plan – like having no idea what we are committing to and no voting faculty representation on the board. Not to mention giving veto power over the deal that finally will emerge from the legislative back rooms to Phil Knight, but not to the faculty. But to me this story is one big argument in favor of it. Kudos to Lariviere for doing the hard thing and the right thing for the underpaid UO staff by doing what he could to protect them from this stupid money wasting furlough plan. Damn the consequences.*  FWIW, here are some quotes from the story written by Nigel Jaquiss in Willamette Week. His words and sentiment, definitely not mine:

Gov. Ted Kulongoski hammered University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere last week for creating a pay system at the school that flouts budget cuts hitting other state employees.
The politically charged dispute between the outgoing governor and the new UO president surfaced in documents WW obtained via public records request. Those documents show that rather than instructing UO staffers to take furlough days like other state employees, Lariviere approved a setup that allowed as many as 1,000 of those UO employees to replace state-mandated furlough hours with overtime hours. So, while other public employees took pay cuts due to furloughs, some university employees got paid the same amount—for doing less work.
“We were concerned to learn of the use of overtime to offset the furloughs for classified employees at the University of Oregon,” Tim Nesbitt, Kulongoski’s chief of staff, wrote in an Oct. 1 letter to Lariviere. (About 8 percent of the university’s 20,000 full-time employees are “classified” SEIU Local 503 union workers who perform various clerical and support functions.)

Patricia Snopkowski, the Oregon University System’s auditor, did a preliminary review of overtime expenditures at all seven OUS campuses for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. She found that, rather than declining, overtime costs at UO increased 30 percent, from $593,000 to $772,000.
UO’s overtime increase is small in the context of the $53 million UO expects to get from the state in 2010-11 (about 7 percent of its budget). But memos show Larivere ordered his top administrators to deliberately circumvent state directives to cut costs. …
And there’s a second level to the dispute: The less-work-for-the-same-pay edict coincides with the university’s push to reduce state oversight. But Nesbitt warned Lariviere that his approach to employee overtime could have larger ramifications. “This is more than a compliance issue,” Nesbitt wrote. “It is a policy issue, and a politically charged one at that.” …

* Yes, I know that the real consequence will be that underpaid faculty like me and underpaid OAs will get screwed out of raises for a few more years, while Lariviere’s got a very sweet contract already.

But just ask yourself what would Frohnmayer have done in this situation? He would have taken another raise for himself and then asked staff, faculty, and students to pay for it. Remember his furlough plan?

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