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University employees protest layoffs

University employees protest layoffs

California State University, Stanislaus employees protest proposed layoffs, set to take effect Sept. 30, at a Monday rally on campus.


POSTED September 13, 2011 9:46 p.m.

California State University, Stanislaus employees held a rally Monday to protest proposed non-teacher layoffs that they say seem excessive compared to those at other CSU campuses.

 “We decided to have a rally because the cuts at Stanislaus don’t seem to fit the rest of the state,” said Pat Gantt, CSUEU president.

System-wide, 14 layoff or cutback notices were issued to CSUEU employees, set to take effect Sept. 30. Eleven of those notices came to CSU Stanislaus employees. Additionally, two temporary, contract employees were released, while 10 others were not reappointed.

While California State University, Stanislaus spokesman Dave Tonelli said he could not speak to what has happened at other campuses, he did say the layoffs were “part of the reality of freefall state funding.”

“It’s unfortunate that we had to get to the point to layoff active staff,” Tonelli said.

The employees cut from CSU Stanislaus held positions in departments such as facilities, instructional support and communications, including a web designer and a graphic artist. The union represents custodians, groundskeepers, information technology staff and nurses, among others.

Since the initial round of notices, one of the CSU Stanislaus layoffs has been rescinded, with the employee garnering a position at a different CSU campus.

Tonelli said it’s unclear at this time just how the work of the laid off employees would get done. Other employees could get updated job descriptions to include functions based on the biggest need for the university or the functions just may not get done, he said.

 “The university has taken budget cut after budget cut in recent years,” Tonelli said. “There’s no way to do the same amount of work with fewer people.”

Union officials hope further layoffs could be mitigated through labor negotiations, which were scheduled all day Monday and Tuesday. Most other campuses will reassign employees, voluntarily reduce hours, or negotiate pay cuts rather than opt for layoffs, Gantt said.

The union will also ask the campus to justify the layoffs, and to explain who will perform the jobs of the laid off staff.

Frank Borrelli, president of the Stanislaus CSUEU chapter, said with no one performing the work, the layoffs will directly hurt students by removing instructional support staff and custodians. That’s despite steadily increasing college fees, up 26 percent from a year ago due to declining state budgets. Since the 2006-2007 school year, CSU system costs have more than doubled from $2,520 to $5,472 for the 2011-2012 year.

“These kids get less for more. It’s really bad,” Borelli said.

Borelli said the campus has worked with the union so far. Some layoffs, set to trigger Sept. 30, have been extended through December. In total, Borelli believes somewhere between half and three-fourths of the layoffs will be mitigated in some way.

But even more cuts may be coming down the pipe in December, as the university faces a further, possible $2.2 million budget cut. That cut, which would be triggered by lower than expected state revenues, would come on top of a $7.6 million year-over-year budget reduction.

Despite the budgetary challenges Gantt said he believes CSU Stanislaus and the union will be able to reach a consensus – even if they don’t agree on everything – to keep some workers employed.

“We do not want anybody on the street,” Gantt said. “We think there are other ways to do this.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

— Journal editor Kristina Hacker contributed to this report.

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