UW-Milwaukee is currently examining the possibilities of furloughs and retirement incentives, as ways of mitigating the possible damage of the proposed $300 million cut within Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal, it was announced at the UWM faculty senate meeting.
According to Rebecca Klaper, a member of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee (APBC), the committee has recently discussed furloughs based on salary conditions. This would mean that employees who earn a salary above a certain level would be subject to furloughs.
Klaper said at the Thursday meeting that the furloughs might apply to people making “over a living wage,” throwing out the figure of $50,000.
According to Klaper, the committee is also discussing the prospect of “winding down” or “sun setting” various programs and centers at UWM.
Robin Van Harpen, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs, said that if all eligible employees are furloughed it would save the University about $6 million a year.
“Basically, we’re absorbing a state problem without any acknowledgement of the fact we’re increasing our workload and decreasing pay,” said Klaper.
Klaper said that the committee would love to take the prospect of furloughs off the table, yet there currently is not another suitable option for dealing with the proposed cuts facing UWM.
Klaper confirmed at the meeting that a maximum of eight furlough days is allowed before an employee is eligible for unemployment insurance. At that point, it will cost the university money to have the employees out on furlough.
It was also announced by Klaper that the committee was discussing the possibility of preparing retirement incentive packages. Van Harpen mentioned that UWM is currently working with, and learning from, Eau Claire and the retirement incentive program that university has designed.
“The incentive is not really an incentive for retirement at Eau Claire,” said Johannes Britz, the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. “It’s not really a good incentive.”
Margot Anderson, a Professor of History, read a description of the retirement incentive deals currently being offered at Eau Claire.
According to Anderson, employees must be non-essential, employee separations must result in savings to the university, positions vacated will not be replaced, eligible employees must be at least 55 years of age, and they must be vested and eligible to take retirement in WRS. The separation benefit for the employee would be one half of their base salary made payable as an annuity or used to buy extra WRS years of service.
Chancellor Mone updated the faculty in attendance about the current state of UWM’s advocacy efforts.
Mone announced that donor development in the last month has resulted in two million dollar gifts to the UWM.
According to Mone, the target audience for UWM’s message is the members of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). Mone told members of the faculty senate that the Governor’s proposal is currently “in the hands” of the JFC. He believes the continuation of UWM’s letter writing campaign is critical to expressing the concerns of the university, as well as conveying the importance of UWM’s mission and the positive effects it has on the local community.
Mone stated that he believes this is not a partisan issue.
“It’s not a cut as much to UWM alone as much as it is to the state,” said Mone.
“I don’t want to be seen as going against the Governor,” said Mone. “I want to make the case about the value for Wisconsin of investing in higher education.”
Mone announced that Sheldon Lubar has written a letter directly to Senator Alberta Darling.