Featured research project --
In this case, Dr. Batya Weinbaum, editor of the Feminist Speculative Fiction Journal (FemSpec), had been struggling with the English Dept at Cleveland State University (CSU), over repeated altercations initiated by another member of the English area.
At the point where we entered this process, the situation was approaching negotiations for a pre-court settlement and required an actuarial/economic assessments of the losses inflicted on Dr Weinbaum by the University's actions -- from pension denials, health benefits, salary and career consequences in the current academic market, and related consequences. The economic estimates required current dollar valuations for the possible future losses.
The harassing inter-personal disruption, that Dr Weinbaum had been attempting to snuff-out, had eventually divided the department. The department Chairman -- as well as the University administration -- had originally sided with Dr Weinbaum when the focus was on the issues, but the continuing upheaval led to an aggravated Department Chairman not wanting to deal with dissention, and ultimately to the denial of Dr Weinbaum's contract renewal and tenure prospects even though her performance as a faculty member had consistently been recognized as above the faculty norms at compensation time. Dr Weinbaum's classes were well received by the students, her publishing records were a credit to the university and her campus affiliations were supportive of her side of the battle -- both the interpersonal battles and the administrative battles -- to the point of student protesting, alumni writing articles and the AAUW contributing to Dr Weinbaum's legal fees fund. The faculty union AAUP was supportive of Dr Weinbaum's position but they were limiting their involvement to their rules covering gross violations, even though Dr Weinbaum's reputation in job-seeking was damaged, her pension was taken away and her major benefits were cut-off.
The legal fees were well exceeding income-less financial situations and the time frames for dragging through the longerterm courtroom routes to reach a just resolution were being discussed with her lawyer and feminist advisors. How eager should Dr Weinbaum be to settle and for what amount? How willing was her lawyer to delay his compensation ideas? This scenario was prime material for decision analytic and sensitivity testing.
Preliminary round of assessments to prepare for the first pre-court, in-depth confrontations with the CSU TEAM of lawyers: confronting Dr Weinbaum's lone lawyer.
July 30th 2005
Licata & Associates
The fax should include three legal size document/spreadsheets detailing the components of the calculation details. Each one estimates the losses incurred in a specific scenario: MidLine, Economic Instability, or Merit/Promotions.
The problems with doing the usual analysis are many. The academic profession involves quantum steps in income, as Batya would have progressed from Assistant Professor to Full Professor, with merit increases always over and above the union negotiated COLA. Unlike the usual employment situations, academics opt to work summers or not with no particular pattern. In addition, this upcoming time period is shaping up to be unstable economically because of the end of cheap oil, the front end tip of which we are seeing already.
Looking at the estimates while flexing these variables shows that the usual attention to fine tuning the client's age and retirement date is clearly insignificant relative to the economic view chosen. Yet pinpointing the COLA and EIC is like nailing jelly to the wall in such time periods. In fact the market basket basis is likely to change totally. In insurance and actuarial work, the solution is to do sensitivity runs and assign probability estimates to a range of scenarios. Hence the route chosen here is to quantify a selection of representative scenarios. Based on the political climate, you are then positioned to apply appropriate probability estimates to those scenarios.
The resulting loss estimates are summarized as follows:
From Batya's payslip data, the basis for the Gross Pay variable is the 2002 gross contract pay, as that is the last full year of data. The usual conversion to real dollars and present values for those is based on the selected scenario, following which the actuarial impact of one of the standard Mortality Tables is applied to arrive at an expected value, with the exception of the time periods already survived. Totals of the expected present value of the real dollar pay stream is listed above the column, as appropriate. Although I have not heard back from one S. Richmond, apparently a grievance counselor at CSU, about the usual career pattern step-ups, it is unlikely to make more than a minor adjustment in the picture.
$ 747,000 ||
Totally disjoint from GrossPay is the Benefit analysis, the main components of which are Batya's retirement savings program and her combined health insurance coverage, the latter of which is entirely CSU-funded. She has been investing quite substantive amounts, for the brief time at CSU. Those amounts are amply matched by the university under their contract, with the percentages displayed, And the holders of the pension have exhibited considerable skill in managing those funds all of which is presented in the table. Also in that piece are the impact of pre-tax, vs after-tax savings on Batya's contribution, and the potential growth of all those investments, based on the displayed tax bracket (per her tax accountant) and the demonstrated fund performance during the period, which was in a market that was marked mostly by downturn and stagnation. Note the existing account total, per a report from the fund managers, enters the stream at the point of its accounting,
The CSU health coverage basis is taken from payslip values and then converted going forward to PV/real amounts. If the goal were to avoid underestimating its future values, the consistently higher medical expense inflation should be applied. The more conservative COLA was used for this analysis. Life and disability coverage is included without need of special treatment (other than the usual PV/Real conversion to be consistent with the table) since its impact is almost negligible in the total.
For this illustration, MidLine scenario used 2.4% for COLA, 3% for wage increase; Merit/Promotion, 2.4% for COLA, 5% for wage; and Economic Instability, 7.4% for COLA with wage capped at COLA. Since the replacement of the entire energy infrastructure of this economy is a massive undertaking, extending well beyond 2030 in most analyses, a high-end COLA is suggested. If your contacts in the courts are not yet factoring these impending infrastructure changes into their assessments, it would seem like the time to alert them to the implications for the public. If the market basket is cut radically while the prices rise, the selection of COLA could plummet and the real dollar value of the American defined lifestyle becomes meaningless.
In the interim, it would be useful to know what possible variations would be useful for whatever strategy you are developing, if any, as well as what role my work is supposed to serve. Also, if any.
J. H. Raichyk, PhD.
We shall reserve our attention to any of the many individual assessments of the possible Weinbaum projected losses -- with outcome spectrum of MidLine, Economic Instability, and Merit/Promotions. -- until the end of this story, as there is a lot to tell yet.
Over all the initial confrontations -- two months of insulting and demeaning results being relayed to Dr Weinbaum by her lawyer -- the team of CSU lawyers were treating the negotiations as if it were a nuisance case. By mid-August, the situation was headed to courtroom battles and the need for firmer ground was increasing -- fortunately no faster than the arrival of external data and a better grasp of why the CSU team expected to get away with the injustice.
Re: Batya Weinbaum vs CSU case
August 15th 2005
Licata & Associates
In the interim since my last report, the data I requested from the Grievance Officer at CSU arrived with some interesting insights into the compensation prospects at CSU. Although the Benefits analysis seems unaffected directly, the pay analysis will lean more toward a less optimistic assessment due to the fact that the AAUP bargaining unit is focussed on rectifying some apparently significant inversion problems in CSU's hierarchic structure. With accession to CSU's stated financial limits, the AAUP union is agreeing to lower COLAs, lower minimums (for promotion levels and stepups), as well as reduced merit adjustments, in order to retain funds for bringing some Professors and Associates gradually up to proper levels relative to salaries negotiated with more junior faculty. Merit raises are currently limited to 50 nominal awards to be spread over the entire faculty, with repeated awards prohibited during the term of the contract. The concept of 'lower COLAs' rather suggests a weak union, at best. And the existence of 'inversion' irregularities at this point in the employment world raises issues of CSU's management.
To build this into the scenarios discussed earlier makes the outcomes slightly lower and modifies the probability of the optimistic scenario in recognition of the pre-condition that the AAUP complete their current diversion and strengthen the merit component of their agenda.
The resulting loss estimates are summarized as follows:
Due to the time constraints and the fact that electronic transmission worked smoothly last month, I will be faxing you the spreadsheet/documentation for the CSU/Weinbaum case and sending the background data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CSU/AAUP compensation contract pages, the National Center for Education Statistics assessment of the field, and others via email in the form of webpages, along with file lists and suggested handling. Loretta is welcome to call me at my office if there is a problem with either the faxed pages or the files attached to the emails, which will arrive from my CIGHE research addy.
The background/Appendix data on State & Local Government employees from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm the parameters we've used for various rates as well as trends that could suggest that my inflation rates for the benefits calculation in the optimistic and the midline scenario could have been set less conservatively. Something to consider, setting inflation higher on benefits. The BLS graph of the trend history for all civilian workers matches the pattern making it clear the dynamics on pay/benefits inflation are broad in scope. That graph is included.
Although CSU is an institution of the state, it's character as post-secondary teaching employment is better defined in the data from the National Center for Education Statistics. That source provided information on the dynamics affecting the employment and compensation prospects in college teaching along with statistical projections. They emphasize that the field, though desirable for salary and lifestyle is being re-engineered to support the universities' financial agendas, including the intentional reduction of tenured positions, replacing them with adjuncts and TAs. These two groups already account for over 40% of faculty positions. With a 20% projected growth of the college/university's main student population (in the baccalaureate programs) over the next 10 years, the faculty situation is nevertheless shaping up to be highly competitive for the remaining positions.
By comparison, the BLS projections and prospects obscure much of the dynamics by combining all Education employees with Health Services or in other cases with Librarians. Their 10 year projections (2002-2012) show increases in jobs relative to other occupations but the shift was expected to be less than was experienced in the previous 10 years, implying that future prospects would be promising, stable and relatively comparable to current experience, though moderated from past growth in the field. It gives no hint that the tenure-based structure of the colleges and universities is being downsized immediately following a growth period in the eligible population of doctorate holders. Certain key leaders in the women's movement within academia were actively advising young women to pursue advanced degrees on the basis of 'advancement' opportunities due to promised turnover of the boomers, though they knew that the universities were switching to adjuncts as senior staff retired. Their acknowledged goal was being able to confront administrations with evidence of large pools of women with suitable credentials to contrast with the gender-unbalanced existing faculty. Women have made considerable 'progress' in achieving a growing presence among graduating doctorates in most fields. Those leaders saw nothing immoral in using young women as cannon fodder.
I've also included the latest version of the OES/BLS promotion of advanced training even though the postponement of earnings and the current size of student debt makes the payback period far more relevant than simplistic job/pay statistics. In order to make those paybacks on the required investments realizable, one cannot have incidents like the Weinbaum case.
The other key element to shape these versions is the compensation section of the CSU/AAUP contract, including the policy on availability of summer employment to reach annual wage values. The stated AAUP goal was availability so we've used that as a given on the premise that as a senior faculty member, Professor Weinbaum would be able to access those wages. Among the faxed documentation is another spreadsheet that roughly analyses the payscales, raises, and other factors inherent in their plans and positions Batya Weinbaum's should-have-been promotions within that scheme.
Should you have any questions or requests, I will be in the office for most of the day with only brief commitments elsewhere.
J. H. Raichyk, PhD.
Once I had supplied Dr Weinbaum's lawyer with the latest data, the dynamics of the players in this unfortunate entanglement began to be an annoyance. The students' wellbeing was never included in any factor anywhere. Nor was the taxpayer, or the university productivity. The university was just caught with the necessity of supporting one of its department's official territorial decisions even though the university had no visible connection to the animosity embedded in the entrenched department members involved in the harassment. The lawyers for the university were the only beneficiaries, other than the harassment group. Campus unease was never a concern, other than the official credibility of the English Department Chairman. Dr Weinbaum had the right to win, but how could one hope for the successful route to become reality when it would penalize students, taxpayers, staffers and alumni -- all innocent bystanders or even Dr Weinbaum's supporters.
I began to think about other university hierarchical arrangements. Inspiration hit. If I didn't act on it, the case would definitely go to court, with no chance of justice. While cruising the university website PR, I noticed the identity and a quote from the Provost, who seemed to be a reasonable, logical, creative scientist. How could he be party to this. It was a match.
So I wrote to him with the reasoned appeal that seemed to solve the problem with a
creative hierarchic move on his part.
It didn't quite work as well as I had hoped but it dislodged the courtroom agenda, enraged the university lawyers, provoked Dr Weinbaum's lawyer -- maybe because he felt the brotherhood need to apologize profusely to the CSU lawyers. I got damning letters from lawyers on all sides, accusing me of unprofessional behavior. Didn't I know that no one but the lawyers were permitted to talk to the 'other side'? Really! Eventually Dr Weinbaum took the reins in the negotiations and got a settlement that returned her retirement investments, as well as some other benefits, to the consternation of her own lawyer as well who had basically caved. FINI.
For your entertainment now... see one of the many views produced by the financial model of Dr Weinbaum's anticipated losses used for the courtroom preparation, this spreadshhet defines one of the representative optimistic ends of the spectrum of outcomes that the future could hold. The future's spectrum ranged from this optimism to a much darker economic instability scenario. Dr Weinbaum's future is her own creation now.