I comment from my bunker here in Wisconsin. I will be venturing out tomorrow to Madison to protest the grotesque assault on worker rights that is masquerading as a "budget repair bill."
I would like to point out that most schools in the UW system get less than 25% of their total funding from the state. Madison gets 8%. We have accepted lower-than-average wages with the assurance that our benefits and pension would be exceptional. In truth, the UW system has already become far less attractive to the top candidates for positions because the benefits are seen as a given if you're a state employee anywhere and the salaries are lower than offers from other states (my "campus" lags more than 15% behind the national average in salaries). The idea promulgated by the Republicans and their masters that public sector workers are "living off of taxpayers" is a convenient fiction. And we have had to do more with less for decades.
I have not had a cost of living adjustment for more than 5 years. (My OH, who works in the private sector, gets a raise every year.) I have been eligible for merit raises for the past two years, but since there's no money, oh well. I have "sucked up" a 5% pay cut (3% furlough and a 2% promised raise that was just...gone) for the last two years. By the end of this biennium, I will have given the state back $2500 of my salary. At the same time, my class caps were increased to accommodate a surge in enrollment so that we didn't have to hire as many people to teach the course sections these students would have filled. I have continued to give my all to my composition and literature students in spite of all of this.
To say that I am disheartened would be understatement. I've worked for half of my life--my entire adult life, in fact--to become a professor. I am finally (almost) tenured. And I'm depicted by the Right as a lazy, self-serving asshole who deserves a further pay cut to bring my benefit and pension package in line with the private sector. Well, I have 15 years of experience and a terminal degree in my field. I would be making $75K in the private sector if I'd stayed in it instead of coming back to education. Instead, I make $44,500 to teach a 4/4 load AND get kicked in the face by the duly elected government of my state. The pension and health care adjustments amount to over $4000 out of my already below-average salary. I haven't even tried to figure out what my hourly wage would be (factoring in on-campus time, and prep in the evenings, and grading on weekends)--I think it might make me kill myself.
No wonder I feel like such an asshole.