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08 February 2012

Here Is Your Paycheck. Care to Donate to the Cause?

My employer wants me to donate money to its endowment. There is a big campaign to get at least half of the faculty here to contribute. I find this silly. Employers pay workers, not vice versa. As I see it, I would essentially be saying, "No, no, no, you pay me too much. Here is some of that money back so that you can do other things besides paying me." I think my logic holds regardless of institution type, but it's worth looking at how things might differ. I work at a public liberal arts college. We are, in part, funded by state monies (although, the control the state wields over us is far disproportionate to that meager--and shrinking--financing). If the people of this state, as represented by their elected officials, want state institutions to compete with private and out-of-state institutions, they need to mandate more funding, including that for higher salaries to recruit and retain qualified and prestigious professors. A similar argument holds, though, for private institutions. Their alumni tend to have deep pockets. Hit them up for more donations, not your workers. Overall, I find it perverse that employees should be asked to shoulder any burden. To suggest anything else is hegemonic at best and coercive at worst. Do not misunderstand; I firmly believe in the mission of this institution (at least as it is on paper if not in practice), but that does not change the economic relationship that is inherent to any work-related situation. Then again, this is the same system that forced me to take two weeks worth of unpaid furlough days a couple years ago.

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