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Give back the cash!

September 17, 2009 - Per Peterson
Top staff in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has been paid $287,500 in performance bonuses for work done last year, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Thirty-four of the system’s top employees received bonuses from $3,000 to $12,000. The average bonus was $7,500. I don’t know what constitutes a “top employee,” but here’s my advice to them — give it back, or pool it together and divide it up among the colleges in the system. Or donate it to charity. Just don’t keep it. Even politicians give up their per diems once in awhile. Not that you don’t deserve this nice little windfall, but considering the financial situation of colleges and universities in Minnesota, and considering how people in other lines of work — whether they’re city employees or otherwise — are being laid off or put on furlough or are having their hours scaled back, it’s the right thing to do. Tough, but right. You guys probably bring home a pretty nice pay check anyway, plus, this way, you’ll be able to sleep better at night. I'm not holding my breath on this one. In fact, I can't say for sure if I would give my bonus back. I'd like to think I would, but then again, I'm not making the kind of cabbage MnSCU brass pulls down, either. I'm more of a blue-collar, middle-class, paycheck-to-paycheck kind of guy. Proud of it. I probably need the money more than MnSCU brass does. That's not to justify any hidden hypocracy you might glean from this blog, I'm just sayin'. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents more than 3,700 union members in the system sure isn’t happy about the bumps. AFSCME chairwoman Karen Foreman said, “People are very appalled by this. Giving the bonuses to the top level of managers when you’re laying off staff who answer the phone, set up the laboratories and help students and parents — that isn’t shared sacrifice.” AFSCME leaders protested the performance bonus program at the MnSCU Board of Trustees meeting last week, before the amounts and the program’s scope were commonly known, the AP said. AFSCME took no pay raises in its current two-year contract, which started this summer. Foreman said it was done in the spirit of ‘‘shared sacrifice.’’ AFSCME said at least 60 union members have been recently let go. When the Board of Trustees approved its annual budget in June, it called for about 550 system jobs to be left open or eliminated due to declines in funding. By the way, MnSCU Chancellor James McCormick, who banks $360,000 a year, received the biggest bonus of all — $32,500. That’s not a bonus, that’s a salary.


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