Saturday, October 14, 2006

UW's Healthy Professors

So we find that UW professors take only 8/10ths of a day per year as "sick." This compares to other State of Wisconsin professionals taking between 5.6 and 8.9 days/year as "sick."


Because accumulated sick leave can be converted to health-insurance premiums for retirement, and in the case of UW professors, that can be very significant money--more than $200K--which is triple the amount taken by other State employees.

But the most important paragraph in the article is this one:

Mueller [a State auditor] recommended that the Legislature launch a review of the entire sick leave conversion credit program. The program is financially secure now, Mueller said. But there is growing concern across the country about the funding of post-retirement benefits for public employees. The federal government is tightening reporting requirements for the programs.

We could start with the whole concept of trading "sick time" for dollars at the end of one's career. Alternatives include simply trashing the program, reducing the number of paid "sick days" to some more realistic figure, or creating a tradeoff between current earnings and a future one-time payment.

It is well-known that public employees are (on average) better-compensated than private-sector employees for comparable work, when one considers the benefits available as part of "compensation."

It's about time that the State of Wisconsin make some adjustments.


Anonymous said...

"It is well-known that public employees are (on average) better-compensated than private-sector employees for comparable work, when one considers the benefits available as part of 'compensation.'"

Perhaps this is so for state employees in general, but you can't say it is true for UW professors (and here I speak of the "real" UW professors) without comparing their pay to that of their counterparts at peer institutions. Have you made that comparison? Unless you have done so, your point is pointless.

Dad29 said...

Well, then--here's another solution:

Raise the UW profs to "other colleges" standard salaries, and cut out their "sick leave" altogether.

You get sick, you no get pay.


In professional practices with which I am familiar, "sick pay" has a use/lose policy. You're not expected to get sick. If you do, you get 5 days/year. If you don't, thanks!! You don't get to "roll it over."

That's what we call "normalcy."

Dad29 said...

And one more thing, Anony--I'm sure that the Leg. Fiscal Bureau could come up with comparos to peer institutions.

All in--including bennies--I'd be happy to have them make the comparo.

And then we'll adjust until Wisconsin taxes are comparable with the host-States for the "peers."

Which will require us to close a few UW campus locations to make up the difference.

Anonymous said...

The state legislature (and media) receive annual reports of how the UW faculty and staff salaries compare to other institutions -- Madison to other top research schools, Milwaukee to its urban comparates, etc. So the state legislators (and media) have been warned annually for years now that we are falling 'way behind, and our profs increasingly are being picked off by other states. We grow 'em, we train 'em, they hire 'em away. That's a costly way to run a business or a campus.

Have you missed these annual reports and media stories? They're easy to find by searching google, jsonline, etc.

Btw, keep in mind that of those who stay in teaching at UW campuses, they stay for their careers -- so of course they have far more years accumulated at retirement than do typical state employees, who average five to seven years in state employ, last I saw (i.e., custodians, clerks, etc.).

The state has seen this benefit as a small price to pay in comparison to making salaries comparable -- but hey, as a UW prof, I'm glad to get the salary tradeoff instead, since we haven't had salary increases of more than one or two percent for many years!

But if we lose a basic retirement benefit with a salary tradeoff, well, you can bet that we won't be willing to remain the only group in this state banned from collective bargaining.

Btw, I've been teaching in the UW for almost twenty years, and I can only remember missing class for illness two or three times -- and some of the times, I still was able to get some work done on email or grading. (And yes, I reported it every time.) For one thing, you know that every study shows that more educated people are healthier. We get our checkups, we get our flu shots, and we do rewarding work.

p.s. The state study does seem to be flawed, as it also blasts faculty for not taking their vacation time -- but faculty, as nine-month employees, don't get vacation time. So don't be surprised if other parts of it turn out to be poorly done.

p.p.s. As for other benefits, the UW does not hold up well by comparison. For one, it is the only state system we can find that doesn't have discounted or even free tuition for children of faculty and staff. All private campuses in this state offer that benefit -- because they and the wiser states know that it not only keeps good employees here but also keeps smart kids here.

Dad29 said...

I'm not inclined to bash Professors, unless they are cheating on their bennies. As a group, Profs most likely have their share of troublemakers, VASTLY outweighed by the good guys.

And I do NOT think that professorial payscales should be significantly under (or over) the average for comparable institutions.

But if the question is 'whether the State can afford the Profs,' then two elements deserve attention:

1) Profs/capita of state citizens
2) Cost of prof.

I suspect that our "profs/capita" is a bit high--which leads me back to an earlier thought--that is, we have too many UW schools.