Administrators: Layoffs are certain

This article has been corrected. You may view this article’s correction here.

Although their jobs largely seemed safe just months ago, some staff will be laid off in order to balance the University’s operating budget, administrators said this week.

Because University President Richard Levin on Tuesday mandated reductions on staff salaries and non-personnel costs of 7.5 percent — up from 5 percent last December — involuntary layoffs will occur in some departments, administrators said. Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel explained that it is unclear which departments will be affected and how many people will be laid off. Meanwhile, although Levin is cutting their salaries, faculty jobs will remain untouched.

No caption.
No caption.

“One would wish that we could operate countercyclically and expand the number of people we employ,” Levin said in an interview Tuesday. “But while we have a big endowment, we don’t have pockets that deep.”


In December, when he wrote his first letter on Yale’s endowment woes, Levin did not promise that the University would not lay off any workers. But administrators said at the time that attrition would be able to make up for almost all, if not the entire, planned 5-percent reduction. Employee layoffs were not likely — one or two, here and there, at most, they said.

Now, the tone has changed. In the most recent University assessment, about 600 staff jobs will be eliminated in order to ease budget concerns. Although administrators said they still will try to eliminate as many of these jobs as possible by attrition — leaving unfilled positions vacant — they also said it is no longer possible to rely solely on their removal to save on salaries.

“We’ll try to do it at an absolute minimum,” Peel said of the layoffs. “But 7.5 percent is a pretty aggressive reduction.”

In addition to the termination of jobs, sweeping layoffs could also mean cuts in work hours to fewer than 20 hours per week, or the conversion of a 12-month position to a part-year position, according to University policy.

When an employee is laid off, University policy states they will receive notice of at least 90 days. During that time, in addition to the employee actively seeking a job outside the University, an internal search would be completed by the University to see whether another department — one that is not struggling to cut costs from its budget, Peel said — could take the employee.

But if no job can be found, the employee will receive severance payment after leave. Although current human resources policy allows for about one week of severance pay per year of service, Peel said, University officers are evaluating the current severance policies to determine whether to increase it given the current economic malaise.


Yale’s unionized employees have built-in layoff security policies in their respective contracts.

For Local 35, the union representing University service and maintenance employees, members cannot be involuntary laid off due to staff reductions, according to its union contract. (Current Local 35 members could potentially be laid off if a department were to dissolve, though there is no indication that this will happen.)

For Local 34, the union representing University clerical and technical employees, workers can be laid off, but they then are able to join a Local 34 Interim Employment Pool. Since 1992, the IEP has allowed the unionized workers actively searching for a permanent job to stay on full pay and benefits and come to work at the University as casual employees for one to 15 months typically, depending on how long the employee has worked.

But in his letter to faculty and staff Tuesday, Levin said the University will also reduce usage of casual and temporary employees to curb expenses.

Local 34 President Laura Smith did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday. Yale unions spokesman Evan Cobb said Wednesday that Local 34 will “be mindful that the contract language is honored in all situations.”


The last large-scale layoff of Yale employees occurred in February 2004, when 76 people were cut. At the time, about 40 Local 34 members were notified.

The layoffs caused an uproar, and over 100 unionized workers and union supporters staged a protest rally outside 2 Whitney Ave., the location of the human resources department.

If the number of upcoming layoffs reaches anywhere near 2004 levels, community uproar will likely occur again.

When asked if unionization status would be a factor when considering whom to lay off, Peel said the only factor would be whether the occupation itself is inefficient to the budget.

The layoffs would also likely affect the New Haven economy, as residents who find themselves without a job from the University — the city’s largest employer — will struggle to find another.

“I deeply regret needing to take actions that impose a burden on the loyal and dedicated members of our staff,” Levin said in the letter.

And in addition to reducing temporary and casual workers, the University will also cut back on consultants, Peel said. Meanwhile, Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development Bruce Alexander ’65 said Tuesday, there is no expected change to University subcontracting, which is used for various specialty services across campus, such as auditing and custodial work.


  • large

    I got a bunch of unionized workers in my department. We could survive without the shoe shopping all day, frequent breaks and careless product.

  • Anonymous

    Why should the union workers be spared the ax and the M&Ps bear the brunt of it? The time for union deadwood has come and gone. It's a whole new world,folks--time to start actually working for your salary instead of crying the over-worked/underpaid blues.

  • Anonymous

    Let's turn this into an opportunity to purge the slackers who hide behind their unions, and to halve the HR and accounting staff who do nothing but create their own jobs.

  • far and wide

    While I do agree that there are some positions that are superfluous, not every person in the union does nothing all day. I am not stop from the time I start right up until the end of the day, so try not to generalize too much. I work very, very hard, and I am sure there are many others that do, too.

  • Anonymous

    Are they even looking into retirement incentives instead of layoffs?

  • Alum

    The Corporation should force Levin, Lorimer and the rest of the obscenely overpaid administrators to take a pay cut (come on Rick - can't you live in New Haven on 500K?) before anyone else gets fired.

  • Anonymous

    Selling everyone down the river is productive for anyone. The University should take a look at those who are close to retirement and want to retire 1st. Casual employees may be needed in some areas and not in others which could be covered by someone in the IEP Pool (CT employee). Job sharing between depts should be looked at…example an Administrative Asst positon is open in one dept and another has to cut back. Maybe the employee can be split between the 2 instead of hiring a new person. We are in a time where we must think outside the box instead of finger pointing. Cut backs in spending, such as new office furniture or in food for meetings. In todays crisis we all need our jobs. Maybe we should make positive suggestions to save on the budget instead of negative. Not everyone in the Union, Accounting and HR are slackers. We need to support each other no matter what.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the Union does support slackers, but not all Union employees are slackers, nor HR employees; unfortunately, the slackers will not be the ones that get laid off and if they are part of Local 34 if won’t matter anyway; they can go in the IEP for up to 15 months and receive pay. I believe the University with its overpaid top administrators, making over $250,000 per year should take a 5% pay cut to save the hardworking people of Yale’s jobs. But do I think greedy people will help others? No. I love capitalism but during hard times at a non-profit institution pay reductions at the top should happen; try boosting morale every once in awhile.

  • Anonymous

    How about they cut their own salaries? Its not like they need to make 100k+

  • union

    the unions have ruined this university, and Ford and GM for that matter.

  • Anonymous

    when will people be notified?

  • Bunch of Hypocrits!

    Obama wants all the higher level execs to give up their salaries for the proletariat. Since Levin and other execs at Yale are Obama supporters, they should lead by example and give away all money that they make over the average proletariat salary of $30k.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect the viciousness on this forum is largely from people who don't actually work at Yale and I'm pleased to see Poster 7 call on the community to support each other.

    One could easily point fingers at the Union, or for that matter in the other direction, at the fact that Yale has twice as many managers as it does clerical staff. All of that is nonsense, we are talking about friends, neighbors and coworkers potentially losing their jobs. It is disgusting that a handful of ideologues would come here and turn hardship for fellow Yale community members into the opportunity for anti-labor diatribes.

    Let's see some cuts off the top end and some smart thinking and cooperation all across the campus and see if we can't all get through this tough year together.

  • Bunch of Hypocrits!

    When we start talking about execs giving up their salaries, then it becomes a "community" issue? Yes, the execs should put their own money where their mouths are. Give up salaries over $30k until the economy recovers.

  • Deadwood

    Be sure to keep on all the deadwood professors for as long as possible. This is a Yale tradition. Look at some of the language departments (German, Italian, French) and it looks like a geriatric clinic.

  • Recent Alum

    #12: Levin makes a tiny fraction of what he would be making in the private sector. Since Levin never makes tens of millions of dollars even when the economy is at its peak, it makes sense to expect that he would not be subject to a pay cut in an economic downturn. Lesser (financial) rewards should lead to lesser risks.

  • Anonymous

    #13 based on many comments, I think these ppl do work here.

    unions had their time, and for the most part that time has passed. Ask a hard working union employee what the union has done for them besides take dues. Nothing. It forces them to work with others who don't pull their weight, but are protected from losing their jobs. The ppl who work hard in unions hate them as much as the top execs do. Its outdated and not efficient. Like it or not, no one makes a living unless businesses make money - or in this case - universities break even.

  • Mixed Message

    Why is the University giving the City of New Haven an additional $2.5 million at the same time it is eliminating salary increases and jobs?

  • Y11

    Better question, why is Yale paying $12 million to use telescopes in Hawaii for 150 days?

  • @#17, and others anti-union

    Of course there are problems with unions, as there are with any concentration of power, and some unions are corrupt and horrible and just suck dues from people who can't afford it. We should fight that wherever we can.

    I don't know how broad your cross-section of union workers is, but I've talked to a lot of union members both here at Yale and elsewhere, and it is absolutely not true that members don't see benefits. Pay rates, healthcare benefits, paid days off, and pensions are all a significant chunk higher at union shops than at non-union shops on average; injury rates are lower. Those are real benefits.

    So, you can argue it's inefficient and anti-capitalist if you want, and you might have a case (although I think it's not even close to that simple) but stick to that argument. Don't say that unions can't do anything for working people, because it's a lie.

  • Townie

    It's been a great ride. Thanks for the good times.

  • @ Y11

    "Better question, why is Yale paying $12 million to use telescopes in Hawaii for 150 days?"

    Are you serious?

    What do think Yale's mission is? Doing research! It's great that it also helps Yale, and employs people, but the reason it exists is to do top-notch research.

    This is a coup! $12 million, over 10 YEARS, to use the BEST telescopes in the world!

    Our do you think the money would be better spent on undergraduates social lives … ?!

  • Barbara

    Two cheers for #10!

  • Anonymous

    Looks like a lot of Management are pissed off at Local 34 employees. How dare you all. If it wasn't for the union worker's absolutely NOTHING would get done at Yale. I think it's quite the opposite. Management are a bunch of dead wood that get high salaries and do NOT deserve a penny they make.

  • lsmith

    #24 just proves how the unions have divided this university. drove a wedge right between management and the c and ts.

  • CandTlu

    What wedge would that be? I'm a C & T and get along just fine with management.

  • to #20 from #17

    I AM a union employee! It's a waste of my money. last i checked, my manager still has better benefits/$$ - because they are managers! do you expect to get paid the same as a ceo? that's crazy. we are not a communist society. If we were there would be no value to getting an education, and none of us would have jobs at a place like Yale.

  • unk

    I would say that management in my area has more than doubled since 2006, I'd venture to say that it might have even tripled. When times are good. the dog gets fat. and in my area the "do-ers" have only added a small amount of jobs in that same time frame while the "thinkers" tripled. they also receive higher compensation. I see this as an opportunity for Yale to review its multi layer corporate approach to management, put the dog on a diet, decrease multi tier management fluff and lean out the dog.

    on a side note I find it interesting that Yale has chosen NOW to emulate corporate structure which has proven failure (see bailouts) VS the successful past University models which has unless I'm wrong….. needed no government funds to bail them out…

  • Anonymous

    Rick Levin is "deeply disturbed" about the impending layoffs. Please!!! He will still stick his hand out and get his 750K (or better) this year.
    I do not believe that he or the fat cat Yale Corporation could care less about the M&P's and C&T's they are putting on the street, especially considering this is the worst economic situation since the depression. Absolutley unconscionable!! There is no reason for these layoffs. Yale's spin doctor can say all he wants everyone knows the truth.
    I believe the M&P's will get fed up enough with getting hammered every time the University screws up their budget and will finally unionize. That seems to be the only way anyone is protected from these geniuses. When that happens, who's going to take them through the next strike?? They should think about that, and believe me, it's being discussed now. It will serve themAckerman right when it happens! People are not going to wait until the next axe falls!!!