Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beth From Barnes City With a New Big Thirsty. (Yes, We're Still Trying to Keep That Shit Alive.)

I wanted to post a follow up to my prior post:

I am still having trouble with my not-so-new-anymore director. Several things have happened recently. First, the rats are fleeing the sinking ship. People just aren't putting up with his lack of finesse, lack of flexibility, and lack of common sense anymore. That leaves me in a spot where I have tons of responsibility (read: work) dumped in my lap. I am already working at nearly a 2.0 FTE, and now even more has been added on. (Tell that to the guy that says faculty don't do anything).

We teach in a co-teaching type of program. It is a program where we have a group of students that move through the same classes at the same time. We share the responsibilities of teaching all of the courses to these students, supposedly equally with administrative time built in. He allows the work load to be unbalanced. He is afraid to make anyone upset, so he allows some faculty to avoid work under the premise that he is afraid to overstress them or lose them- he's losing them anyway.

He promises those of us who have more than our share of the workload that things will be better, but these are empty promises. He even goes as far as to promise exact things that contradict what he has told another faculty member. (For example, promising the single TA to more than one of us, which can't be done). As a matter of fact, when I took actual facts and figures to him about the unbalanced workload, he suggested I seek counseling for stress. He was even threatening about it, telling me that my job "could" be dependent on it.

He recently had a run in with a student. The student felt uncomfortable in the situation (door closed, raised voices). Granted, the students demands were unreasonable, but the situation wasn't handled well.

Q: What do I do now? Should I take this to the next dean higher; leave it alone and see if it blows over; or something else entirely?


  1. a) Document, document, document. It sounds as if you have already done this.
    b) if you think it is worthwhile to talk to the guy again (i.e. if you think he won't fire you for raising your voice, as he has already implied he's ready to do), then do so. Otherwise
    c) go over his head, yeah. If you've got a union, bring a union rep with you. If you've got a Faculty ASsociation, bring the FA rep with you. If you've got HR and they're likely to be sympathetic, bring the HR rep with you. You might want to try this step with your director first.

  2. The problem is that you're on a 1-year contract. All he has to do is not renew you. On the other hand, sounds as if he's already worried about faculty retention. So, it's worth trying to talk to him, with a witness; or talk to a Dean. It sounds as if the guy has been promoted way, way over his ability to cope.

  3. This fool is clearly incompetent. Is it even legal for him to suggest stress counseling in response to what sounds to me like a forced overload? How come your colleagues get to avoid work, and you don't?

    He's dependent on you. In a market economy, if demand for a service goes up, the provider should be able to increase the price for it. He'd be silly to raise a hand against you, but if your description is accurate, I wouldn't put it past him. He doesn't sound too rational.

    (But of course, as an astronomer, I'd think that. If anyone told astronomers that they had to do all their work between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., they would burst out laughing.)

    It sounds like he's headed for a meltdown. If you do nothing, I doubt it will just blow over. He may self destruct of his own accord, but what will happen to the people around him?

  4. I'd suggest a two-pronged strategy: wait until you have a newly signed yearlong contract, then begin talking to the next Dean up, and anybody else who might be helpful (union rep, faculty association rep, ombudsperson, etc.). But also spend about equal time at least gathering materials and making contacts for a job search, just in case. It sounds like you may be in a somewhat in-demand field; take advantage of that.

  5. I'm with Merely Academic about documenting everything and seeking any faculty representation help you can.

    What does your contract say? Is there anything in your contract about your workload? If he's violating your contract, to whom do you appeal? If it's his supervisor, then by all means go to his supervisor.

    Also, check your state's labor laws. As Froderick suggested, he may have violated labor law by suggesting that you get counseling to deal with a forced overload. Additionally, he may be creating a hostile work environment, something frowned upon in many states not yet completely under fascist control.

    Definitely do what you can, but protect yourself in the process--and do let us know what happens.

  6. I worked for a similar tyrant at one point. He is incompetent and knows it so he pushes people around. I second what everyone says. Document as much as possible and don't think that you are alone. There are probably others with similar complaints. Keep a detailed time sheet and make a list of all the duties he's shoveled upon you.
    Also, if he wants an 8 to 5 employee, then that is all I'd give him. That means no extra work outside of working hours, no extra projects, no answering emails past working hours, etc. This is where the time sheet will come in handy. This is when you need to become firm about your time.

  7. HEY.

    I know the goal is to fuck the blog, but YES we are keeping that shit alive!!

    RYS, CM, THIRSTIES!!!!!!

  8. Document, document, document, witness, witness, witness!

    Hang him with his own HR rope.


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