Saturday, December 7, 2013

Push to Exit

I had just read the following article about adjunct Professors looking to unionize as more and more higher education instructors were finding themselves teaching from pillar to post to cobble together more work.  It very parallels much of the legal profession and their juggling hats and offices to maintain a living wage and professional profile.

And below is an article about the dreaded over 50 set, you know those Boomers who are truly a nuisance as they just the last rung on a ladder to nowhere.

What more to add? There is nothing more it is what it is. My mother used to say "he who accuses, excuses" I do think that is quite appropriate.

And all of this on the job numbers and the supposed gains in employment.  Once again numbers lie but we all do don't we?  This article makes salient points that we have a long way to go to really generate enough jobs to have what is called "full" employment.

And this observation by the op-ed section of the New York Times makes this point that really all jobs are fast as in food and in wages.
Work and Rewards

The employment report for November shows why fast-food workers across the nation are striking for higher pay and why workers are pushing for a higher minimum wage at the federal, state and local levels

While the job numbers were stronger than expected last month, they were still weak when measured against today’s needs and historical standards. In November, 203,000 positions were created and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent. Some of that improvement was a rebound from the partial government shutdown in October. Still, there were real job gains in many industries, and the decline in joblessness reflected more hiring — rather than a shrinking labor force, as has often been the case in recent years.

Unfortunately, job creation remains concentrated in low-income work, including in retail, restaurants and bars. It is little surprise that fast-food workers have been organizing and agitating for better pay. Their employers are adding jobs and earning profits, but pay is stuck around $9 an hour. A recent study found that more than half of fast-food workers rely on public assistance. A wage increase — the strikers are asking for $15 an hour — would clearly help them, and everyone else, because the public aid they require costs taxpayers an estimated $7 billion a year.

Employers, however, have been unresponsive. There was no evidence of accelerating wage growth in November. While there have been recent minimum wage increases by several communities, including a new hourly minimum of $15 for workers at SeaTac Airport outside Seattle, the proposal by congressional Democrats for an increase in the federal hourly minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 is years away from becoming a reality.

In the meantime, Congress should not make things worse. It should not allow federal jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed to expire as scheduled at the end of the year. Some 4.1 million Americans — 37.3 percent of the nation’s 10.9 million unemployed workers — have been out of work for more than six months. Yet despite the obvious need for continued aid, lawmakers are wrangling over whether the benefits should be renewed as part of a budget deal, separate from a budget deal or at all.

Congress should package together a renewal of jobless benefits with other vital program extensions, including payments to doctors under Medicare and tax relief for foreclosed homeowners. Beyond addressing those immediate issues, Americans need Congress to move away from the misguided budget-deficit obsession of the past few years and to address what President Obama referred to on Wednesday as the “deficit of opportunity.” And that means more federal spending for job creation, job training and improved education, as well as updated labor and immigration standards to support wages.

But here is the real truth, the jobs created are not doing anything to make anyone full in any way.

Pushed Out of a Job Early


By MICHAEL WINERIP
Published December 7, 2013

If there is one thing older workers fear in this economy, it’s losing their jobs as they approach retirement. But that is exactly what happened in March to Richard L. White, who was the director of career services at Rutgers University for 22 years.

Mr. White, 63, had received positive annual reviews from 1990 to 2011. In 2009, the supervising administrator wrote that his work was “conducted at the highest possible level!”

He was considered a leader in the field, winning a Fulbright grant in 2005, the first year it was offered for career services directors. Rutgers, the biggest public university in New Jersey, was ranked 21st nationally in 2010 by The Wall Street Journal for placing undergraduates; in 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the business school 33rd in the nation for M.B.A. pay.

But none of this information was included when Gregory S. Jackson, now the university president’s chief of staff, wrote Mr. White’s performance appraisal for the first time in April 2012. Mr. Jackson, who had recently taken oversight of career services, wrote that Mr. White had failed to meet standards in every category.

Soon after, Mr. White was removed as director; within a year, he was fired.

In January, shortly before leaving, Mr. White filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Rutgers. Three other longtime administrators who were also terminated joined the lawsuit, bringing into the open an increasingly contentious workplace issue.

Age discrimination claims are on the rise as members of the post-World War II baby boom enter their 60s. Last year, 22,857 people filed age-related complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, compared with 16,548 in 2006.

Mr. White, as well as two other career services administrators fired from Rutgers — Dorothy Kerr, 60, and Chrystal McArthur, 64 — had received positive job reviews until Mr. Jackson became involved in 2012. (The fourth who sued, Ms. Kerr’s husband, Mark, 58, did not receive formal appraisals because he was not a supervisor.)

According to Ms. Kerr, who had spent more than 40 years at Rutgers, Mr. Jackson “kept asking us when we were going to retire.”

In the view of the fired administrators, Mr. Jackson wanted to bring in his own people, most of whom were younger, and instead of offering them other positions, dismissed them without cause.

In an email, Peter J. McDonough Jr., a Rutgers spokesman, said that university officials believed the lawsuit was “without merit” and that they would “vigorously defend our practices.” He noted that the new career services director, Richard Hearin, 64, is older than Mr. White. University officials also said that an investigation by Rutgers’s Office of Employment Equity found no policy violation.

A lawyer for Rutgers, John Bennett, said he was unable to go into further detail because of an Oct. 10 court order restricting the release of personnel documents.

(Before that order, however, both the university and the fired administrators provided The New York Times with copies of job assessments that indicated they met all standards in 2011, but none in 2012.)
Once older workers lose their jobs, many never regain their former standard of living. On average, those who do find work make 20 percent less than they had in their previous positions, the biggest income loss for any age group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While Mr. White has found part-time employment at another university, the position does not include benefits and he is spending $2,400 a month for his family’s health coverage. None of his former colleagues have found full-time work either.

Winning an age discrimination case in a federal court has become particularly difficult since a 2009 Supreme Court ruling requiring an employee to prove that age was the determining factor for a layoff. In a few states, however, including New Jersey, the standard of proof is lower, requiring only that workers show that age was one factor.

The lawsuit against Rutgers and Mr. Jackson represents a third instance of high-ranking officials facing public claims of abusive or discriminatory behavior since Robert L. Barchi became president last year. It has received much less publicity than the others, which revolve around the athletic department and the firing of Mike Rice, the men’s basketball coach, after a video surfaced that showed him shouting homophobic slurs and throwing balls at players.

The career services case unfolded in 2012, when Rutgers officials arranged an external review by three national experts, who concluded that the department needed to be reorganized. Among their criticisms of Mr. White: He had failed to coordinate his office’s services with the university, made questionable professional judgments in managers he selected and demonstrated a weakness in leadership because of an aversion to conflict.
But the review also said Mr. White provided “a broad and commendable variety of direct services,” was “extremely well liked by the overwhelming majority of his staff” and had created a program that was “generally well regarded.”

Other experts in career services interviewed for this article said several aspects of the external review raised concerns. One of the three reviewers hired by the university — who were paid $1,000 each — was Mr. Hearin, then director of career services at the University of Maryland. Shortly after recommending that Mr. White be removed from his position, Mr. Hearin was hired to take his place.

John Fracchia, an administrator at Ithaca College who is co-chairman of the committee that oversees external reviews for the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers, and Scott Brown, a dean at Colgate who has conducted more than a dozen such reviews, said Mr. Hearin’s involvement could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

“In terms of ethics, serving on an external review is not supposed to be a backdoor way to get employment,” Mr. Fracchia said.

Mr. White said he believed that Mr. Jackson had made up his mind to remove his colleagues and him long before the review.

On Friday, April 27, at 5 p.m., the review team finished its two-day visit and on Monday, April 30, Mr. Jackson gave Mr. White, Ms. Kerr and Ms. McArthur their annual appraisals, which quoted extensively from the review team’s negative conclusions.

Typically a review report takes two to six weeks to complete, Mr. Fracchia and Mr. Brown said. The reviewers transcribe their notes, which are then collected by a member they have designated to write the report. Normally, that person finishes a first draft, to which the other two contribute edits for a final version. Neither Mr. Fracchia nor Mr. Brown had heard of an external review being concluded so rapidly.

Mr. White said he asked several times for a copy of the review but was turned down. This June, however, the university provided a copy — stamped “confidential” — to The Times.

The reviewers recommended that Mr. White be removed from his job, but “retained” and “reassigned.” <

Rutgers said that neither Mr. Hearin nor Mr. Jackson would discuss the report or the decision to remove Mr. White and name Mr. Hearin as his replacement.

Unmentioned in Mr. Jackson’s appraisal was the external review team’s conclusion that the biggest problem with career services was not leadership. It was lack of resources.

“Even among the academic administrative partners who tend to be the most critical of career services,” they wrote, “the criticism was measured and centered more on resource constraints than service delivery.”

Additional resources were eventually appropriated — after Mr. White was removed.

In a news release about Mr. Hearin’s appointment, Mr. Jackson said the department would add three directors, expand the counseling staff and be moved to a centrally located office.

One other expenditure was not mentioned in the release. After 22 years as director, Mr. White made $118,000 a year; Mr. Hearin’s starting salary was $155,000.

Once Mr. White was removed from office, he was named the associate director for graduate student services. Though he felt humiliated, Mr. White said, he planned to stay until he reached 65, and then retire.

But six months later, a new review by Mr. Jackson said Mr. White was guilty of “neglect of duty.” The primary criticism was that Mr. White had taught a university course without supervisory approval, for which he was “remunerated above and beyond his salary.”

“More problematic,” the appraisal said, the course met during the day, when Mr. White should have been doing student services work.

Mr. White was one of 20 midlevel administrators who taught a section for an honors colloquium that met for an hour a week. There were no papers or exams to be graded.

He said his only preparation was reading one novel, which was discussed throughout the semester. He did not ask permission, he said, because in the four years he had been doing it, no one had ever said there was a problem. He was paid $750.

“It wasn’t the money,” he said. “I did it because I have a doctorate in English and love the opportunity to discuss a novel with such bright Rutgers students.”

March 12 was Mr. White’s last day at Rutgers. Two days later, he and the three others sent a “farewell” letter to the university president.

“This is not how long-serving, dedicated Rutgers employees should be treated,” they wrote, with no “recognition, celebration and expression of gratitude or a simple goodbye.”

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