Yale has notified more than 70 managerial, professional, clerical and technical employees over the past three weeks that they will be laid off, Yale Chief Human Resources Officer Robert Schwartz said Friday.
The cuts are part of Yale’s effort to counter a projected $30 million budget deficit next year and increase overall efficiency. University officials had previously announced that it would be cutting between 200 and 250 positions, estimating 50 to 80 of these would be through layoffs and the rest through attrition.
“Each department took a look at their operations to look at ways to operate in a more efficient manner and ended up making head count reductions in their departments,” Schwartz said. “We took every effort to make sure the process was handled fairly and that people were treated with respect and dignity throughout the process.”
Local 34 President Laura Smith, whose union represents Yale’s clerical and technical employees, said 38 members of her union have been officially notified that they are being laid off and at least four others have been told they may be let go. Smith said the layoffs were “arbitrary” and “dollar-driven.”
“We disagree that there’s a legitimacy to these layoffs based on what the University is saying,” Smith said. “There were no best practices involved here.”
Schwartz said Yale laid off more managerial and professional employees than clerical and technical workers, but he said he did not have the exact number of cuts in each group.
The University will not lay off any members of Local 35, which represents service and maintenance employees, Schwartz said.
But Local 35 President Bob Proto said the layoffs make it more difficult for Yale and its unions — which went on strike last fall for concessions including higher wages and better pensions — to move forward on improving labor relations at the University.
“It makes it much more difficult for use to get into the fast lane in changing the culture and trusting each other,” Proto said. “But we’re hopeful that we can work through it together.”
Smith said the University should have consulted with her union on ways to improve efficiency in departments instead of attempting to solve Yale’s budget problems through layoffs. The job cuts will reduce crucial services while failing to alleviate inefficiencies, Smith said.
“There doesn’t seem to be any real focus [in the layoffs] on improving a given department,” Smith said.
Schwartz said departments had notified the “vast majority” of employees who were to be laid off but some workers who have not yet been informed may eventually be laid off, since some departments have still not finalized their fiscal plans for next year. He said the total number of layoffs would not rise above the lower 70s.
In each case, Schwartz said, the managers of each department personally notified affected employees that they would be laid off. Employees then met with a human resources representative to explain the benefits they would receive and were given the option of meeting with a consultant from Right Management, an outsourcing company the University hired to provide job counseling, interview skills and other training. Schwartz said the University has also created a career resources center at 221 Whitney Ave.
All laid off employees receive 90 days notice, Schwartz said. Managerial and professional employees then receive severance pay and clerical and technical employees go into the interim employment pool, where they work for full salary and benefits in various University departments based on departmental need. Schwartz said employees can stay in this pool for up to 15 months while looking for other jobs.
“We are very hopeful that many of these people will be able to find positions at the University,” Schwartz said.
Smith said the 90 days notice and time in the employment pool were benefits the union had fought for and won. She said laid-off employees had traditionally received other jobs at Yale in the past, but she said she was concerned the University may use the projected deficit as an excuse for a hiring freeze.
Smith and Proto said a good proactive step would be for the University and unions to work together on the issue of casual and temporary workers. Smith said between 300 and 400 full-time positions are filled by temporary workers.
“It’s a way basically of hiding real jobs here,” Smith said.
Schwartz said he could not speculate on the possibility of future layoffs.
“We will always, as a University, look for ways to operate in a more efficient manner,” Schwartz said.
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