Friday, August 07, 2009

Furloughs must be implimented with respect


The California State University system is a union shop. Most non-manager employees in the CSU system are covered by one of several collective bargaining agreements. When CSU wanted to make cuts in its overall employee compensation it only had one option under the agreements, that option was layoffs.

When the CSU decided instead that it wanted to furlough university employees it had to go to the unions and negotiate a side agreement to do so. Employees who were in their unions then had an opportunity to vote to ratify that agreement and almost all the CSU unions voted to accept furloughs for one year.

At this time it appears the budget problems may go on beyond a year. You may see the unions and CSU negotiating again on this topic. Any tentative agreement that may come out of a future agreement would most likely have to again go through a ratification process.

Under the agreement currently in place, management is apparently being given a great deal of discretion in how they are dealing with furlough days. For example, at SJSU, President Whitmore has decided to not close the campus on at least some furlough days. Some university employees are being asked to work on some furlough days and to take other non-furlough days off instead.

This is not the understanding some employees had who voted for furloughs of how furloughs would be implemented. Many employees expected the campus to be closed on furlough days. These employees made other plans on these days (for example for daycare) and some resent that it is not being closed and resent the possibility that they could possibly be asked to work and to take other days off instead. These employees are sometimes feeling taken advantage of.

If employees do not feel that the university is respecting the spirit of the furlough agreement it may be a lot harder for CSU to get a second agreement ratified, if that becomes necessary. It is important for the universities to remember that university employees have made a sacrifice here and if that sacrifice is not respected, it may not ever be repeated.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Letter from SJSU President to staff regarding furloughs

This was sent to all SJSU staff employees by SJSU President Jon Whitmore on August 6, 2009:

Please note our designated furlough days for this month are August 10 and 17. These designated furlough days will be observed by nearly all MPPs, confidentials and staff members. Exceptions include some public safety, auxiliary, library, athletics, housing and custodial personnel. If you work in these areas, please seek guidance from your supervisor.

Also, bargaining unit members can request alternative furlough days for August by completing the Employee Alternate Furlough Day Request Form noted at the end of this message. Please submit the completed form to your supervisor. Keep in mind that campus operational needs will determine if employee requests are granted.

With respect to the remainder of 2009-2010, we have submitted our proposed furlough plan to the chancellor's office. Once the chancellor's office approves the plan, we will share it with you. Our proposed furlough calendars were carefully constructed with much thought, consultation with employee groups, and concern for our operational and academic needs. Thank you for your patience.

Many of you would also like to know how to word absence greetings for email and voicemail on furlough days. Here is suggested language: "Due to state budget cuts, San Jose State University will offer reduced services on Monday, August 10. Most staff members will be on furlough. Please leave a message, but remember we may be unable to return your call until the next business day."

If you have questions, there are a number of resources available to you. Consider speaking with your supervisor or contacting SJSU Employee Relations Manager Cindy Delgado at 408-924-2151. You may submit your questions and comments via the SJSU budget information website. Human Resources will also offer furlough informational workshops open to all employees.

Please understand that the decision to ask you to furlough was not an easy one. However, given the magnitude of our budget shortfall, we have few good choices. Thank you for your commitment and sacrifice on behalf of our students and your fellow employees.

Jon Whitmore

More Information:

SJSU Chief Union steward's advice on University Furlogh Days

On August 6, 2009 the following was sent to union employees from Dennis Fox, the chief union steward for the California State University Employees Union, at SJSU:

The first furlough day for most SJSU employees is coming up on Monday, 10 August 2009. Unfortunately, President Whitmore has not declared the furlough days to coincide with campus closure days so there is going to be a lot of confusion at the outset of this experiment. It is very important for all of us to have a clear understanding of what happens or does not happen on a furlough day. First and foremost, you don't do any work on a furlough day. Don't check your email or your voice mail or work on a project at home.

Since a number of people will still be at work on our furlough day, there are going to be a number of you who will receive calls from those at work who need to know something that only you know. I strongly encourage you to NOT ANSWER that call. Only a manager/supervisor has the authority to call you back to work. Any call to you from work, even if it is just a question, constitutes a "call back". In the academic areas there is a lot of confusion about who is a manager/supervisor. Many employees do not realize that only the Dean and, in the larger colleges, one of the Associate Deans are manager/supervisors. Department chairs, directors, confidential employees, and CSUEU represented employees are not manager/supervisors and are not authorized to call you back to work. I want to hear from anyone who gets a work-related call on a furlough day -- even if you don't answer it. I will forward the information to HR in an attempt to get the problem resolved. If it is a legitimate "call back" from a manager we need to be sure you get full credit as outlined in the contract.

The furlough transition is going to be especially confusing for exempt employees. Hopefully, all exempt employees know by now that, during a week that includes a furlough day, they are non-exempt. If you have any questions that have not been answered in the FAQs that have been distributed let me know. If necessary, perhaps we will have a Q&A meeting over the lunch period to address some of these issues.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Are palmtops getting as powerful as laptops?

According to a New York Times post by Saul Hansell, "Cellphones are growing up, and they just might pose a new threat to the Intel-Microsoft based personal computers." Hansell goes on to say:

Coming by the end of this year are a new crop of small inexpensive notebook computers, known as netbooks, based on the ARM microprocessor design and running one of several versions of Linux, including perhaps Google’s Android cellphone operating system.

Of course Moores law applies across the whole spectrum as palmtops (phones) get more powerful, so too will laptops and desktops. The palmtop of tomorrow will be as powerful as the laptop of today, but the laptop of tomorrow will be even more powerful.

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Apple vs. Google battle part of a philisophical tech war?

According to a recent Business Week article, "The Valley giants both want to determine how users access the mobile Web. Eric Schmidt's exit from Apple's board may be the shot that starts the race in earnest." The article goes on to say:

"By most measures—revenue growth, stock appreciation, magazine cover stories—Apple and Google are the two most successful and influential companies of the past decade. Yet their visions for how the computer industry will shape up in the next one could hardly diverge more."

I love Apple's hardware and interfaces, but the company is far from being open. Its closed position on things as simple as employees blogging, to its tight grip on developers, has been noted many times. In my opinion Apple is a closed company, tightly guarding its public image. The secrecy of the health of its CEO is just one of many examples of the walled garden that is Apple.

Google, on the other hand, has embraced open source technology and philosophy. In my opinion this is not just about companies, it is another battle in a bigger philosophical tech war. The real war is the war of open source vs. proprietary computing.

As Apple is the Microsoft of hand held computing devices (like the iPhone) this battle was to be expected. It is Linux vs. Microsoft all over again, except this time the battle is not over desktops. This battle is over what is in the palm of your hand. This war is far from over

Technorati Tags: , , ,