Friday, May 13, 2016

Walker burned on UW salaries and staffing. But there is this one UW guy who's overpaid...

After taking PR damage due to cuts in state aid to the UW System and other fiscal insanity this week, Governor Scott Walker tried to fight back. Walker implied that UW faculty was overpaid in a series of laughable and whiny tweets that were later shot down ferociously and in detail by the American Association of University Professionals at UW-Milwaukee.

Here’s an example from the AAUP on how dishonest Walker’s “facts” were.
The Governor’s cited average salary figure of $101,700 includes only those faculty who have earned the rank of full professor. These are the most accomplished scholars and the top earners, representing approximately 29% of the UWM faculty. This figure may include the salaries of senior administrators who also hold the rank of full professor, such as UWM’s Chancellor, who earns $340,000 (though without access to the dataset used by the Governor’s office, it is impossible to know). [Update, May 12: Pat Schneider at the Capital Times has located the source of the figure cited above. The Governor’s press release linked to the corresponding document from 2003.]

The term “full professor” is not synonymous with “full-time professor.” The full-time faculty at UWM are those who hold the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor. Assistant professors are those on the tenure track; associate professors are those who have earned tenure but not yet earned promotion to full professor….

State funding accounts for approximately 19% of UWM’s overall budget. On a proportional basis, the median faculty salary at UWM costs taxpayers approximately $16,200, or roughly a third of the average annual salary in Milwaukee County cited by the Governor. In return, the state reaps the benefits of tens of millions of dollars in external funding generated by UWM faculty, while tuition at UWM is roughly a quarter of what it is at Marquette University.
And Scotty would know all about how expensive Marquette is, as he went there for 4 years and gradu….WHOOPS!

Click here for more from the UWM AAUP, and also check out a related post on UW-Green Bay from Chuck Rybak taking apart Walker’s claims about UWGB salaries and staffing. Both articles show that not only was Walker lying out of his backside with his numbers, but that UW faculty is significantly UNDERpaid and forced to work under much less favorable conditions than their peers in other states.

And they're not the only ones refuting Walker's garbage, as even the usually pro-Walker Tom Kertscher at the Journal-Sentinel's Politi-"fact" called Walker's claim on UWM's student-teacher ratios a "pants on fire" lie. Walker has been so rattled by the blowback that he actually tried to give the "I didn't mean ALL of UWM" defense today.

What a maroon!!!

But the topper on replying to Walker's absurdities on the UW System likely came out today, with an amazing kiss-off letter from Carol Levine, the Chair of the UW-Madison Department of English. She not only ridiculed Walker’s claims, but also noted his ignorance as to how labor markets work. Yes, righties, UW faculty are indeed susceptible to the laws of supply and demand- which is why Levine said that many are leaving for other places.
Of course, Walker’s contention is that the university’s costs are just too high — bloated with too many overpaid workers. So let’s talk about salaries. I don’t like the big disparities between professional wages and those of other workers myself, but I can assure you that salaries for faculty are a response to a globally competitive marketplace.

Faculty are not unionized. Five colleagues in my own department have been wooed away to other universities in the past year with salary offers between 50 percent and 100 percent more than what they were earning at the University of Wisconsin.

Imagine blasting workers at Toyota because they were asking to earn salaries equal to the pay of peers with similar skills at Honda or Chevy.
And as you’d imagine an English professor could, Levine ends her letter with a brutalizing finish.
I myself am now leaving the University of Wisconsin after 14 years. At my new university in another state, I will have stronger tenure protections than I now have here. I will earn about 50 percent more than my current salary for the same job. And I will be free from the strange crazy-making double-speak that on one hand demands that higher education deliver value like a business, and on the other hand, methodically prevents it from doing so.
But that’s the plan isn’t it? Defund and devalue public education, discourage the best and brightest from teaching and researching here, and then use that lowering of quality to claim “they aren’t getting the job done”, and justify more cuts and privatization to the UW.

And not surprisingly, Walker’s whining comes with a nice side order of hypocrisy. Not only because Walker continued to pull down his full $147,000+, taxpayer-funded salary along with his taxpayer-funded security staff while he was traveling around the country much of last year trying to convince people that he could be the Republican nominee for president? (insert joke here) But Scotty, if you want to complain about high-priced, wasteful staff for the UW, then let’s start with one of your long-time cronies who pulled one of those 6-figure UW paychecks that you like to complain about.

Yes Scotty, I’m talking about your buddy Jim Villa, who was hired at $178,000 a year to be a hatchet man VP for “UW System relations” just 2 years ago. This was despite Villa having no experience working in higher ed or even having a UW degree (he’s part of the Marquette Mafia of College Republicans from the late ‘80s-early ‘90s that includes Walker and Bigoted Becky Bradley). Villa seemed to do nothing in that job other than work with other WisGOPs at the Capitol, greasing the skids for the $250 million cut to the System and eradication of tenure. Which has led professors like Levine to leave for states and universities that make the investments that lead to quality higher-education.

Oh, and did we mention that while Villa was pulling down that huge paycheck from the taxpayers, he was also acting as an “adviser” on the joke that was Walker’s presidential campaign, even being part of the group that was at the Governor’s mansion when Walker decided to pull the plug last September? And now, with his mission to screw up the UW being complete, Villa announced this month that he was leaving that VP spot to return to his prior industry - commercial real estate and "government relations". (gee, wonder if there’s some UW property Villa might have an inside track on?)

But instead Scotty wants to try to drive up resentment by playing the “overpaid” card on academics with more education, more options, more ethics, and a lot less money than his buddy Jim was pulling down from the UW? Good luck with that, Gov Dropout. You do realize we can use this Internet thing for something other than Facebook pictures and shooting our mouths off, right? And that that the majority of us live outside the Bubble of AM radio lies and aren't dumbfucks who resent book-learners, don’t you?


  1. As usual, you're the king, and thanks for the link. If anything, no one can say that these no confidence motions having made all of these voices and arguments public. That will always be one benefit.

    1. Chuck- You deserve the props. I'm not doing half the work you are in the trenches.

      And I agree that just speaking up is important, because the Walker people and the WisGOPs want nothing more than to let these things happen with little resistance, so they can turn around to the public and say, "See, it's not so bad." Just like they've tried to do with K-12 public schools and Act 10.