University layoffs will continue

No more than 100 University workers will be laid off before departmental operating budgets are finalized, Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel said.

With over 75 University staff laid off so far, the projected $100 million budget gap has yielded one of the largest rounds of layoffs in University history. Still, several departments have yet to hand in their budget details, and some department managers said that as the economy continues to tank, they may be forced to lay off additional employees and pursue other cost-cutting strategies.

It could have been worse: Although original projections indicated that up to 300 workers would be laid off, University officials worked to prevent involuntary layoffs by eliminating jobs through attrition and accepting voluntary layoffs. Peel confirmed earlier this month that an “overwhelming majority” of jobs were cut through leaving vacant positions unfilled. About 30 to 40 percent of the layoffs are voluntary, Peel said, noting that some of these affected workers chose to retire early or decided to pursue other careers.

The last time the University enacted large-scale layoffs was in March 2004, when University officials announced that they had laid off 76 employees to make 5 percent cuts in staff expenses. At the time, clerical and technical employees were disproportionately affected. About 60 percent of the almost 8,000 staff were maintenance and professional workers, but only 50 percent of the 76 layoffs that year came from that division of the workforce. The rest of the layoffs were members of Local 34, Yale’s union that represents more than 90 percent of the University’s clerical and technical staff.

Although Peel did not have specific details readily available, he said he expects this year’s set of layoffs to mirror workforce ratios — “as it should be,” he said.

The exact ratios have yet to be determined, as departments such as the Athletics Department have yet to submit their budget strategies. Athletics Director Thomas Beckett said the University expects a finalized budget by the second week of May: “It’s a work in progress,” he said.

At University Health Services, despite reducing casual work and eliminating vacant positions, officials still were forced to lay off one manager in the maintenance and professional division and one Local 34 employee, YUHS Director Paul Genecin said last week.

Genecin added that University officials may lay off additional employees and turn to so-far-unused cost-saving strategies in the near future, “if things look too bleak on the economic horizon” for fiscal year 2010.

One such new strategy University officials are considering is a retirement incentive program. But Peel told the News last week that officials ultimately decided against pursuing the program because it could burden the University with additional expenses.

“Since we have so many small organizations within the University, those who elected to take early retirement incentives invariably needed to be replaced, costing money not only for the early retirement incentives but also for the recruiting and disruption costs,” he said.

Peel added that on a case-by-case basis, some workers who took an early retirement were offered severance pay in addition to retirement benefits. He explained that the additional pay would be offered if the retirement would save a manager from laying off an employee. The combination of the severance pay and retirement benefits, Peel said, would be of comparable cost to a retirement incentive.

Layoffs are just one of many strategies University officials are using to balance its budget, including double-sided printing and cutting down on food and beverage supplies in offices.

Comments

  • interested observer

    I wonder why Yale has not considered furloughs or asking employees whether they would be willing to accept temporary salary cuts so as to keep colleagues from being laid off. Also, I wonder if the top-heavy upper management has offered to take salary/benefit cuts for the good of the University. Have you asked what someone like VP Peel has been willing to forego in the interests of cost-cutting?

  • @ #1

    The reason is simple. Yale has gone corporate. With the demise of SNET, UI and other local employers, Yale doesn't have to be a better employer. Notice the cast of management characters who've been hired from Proctor & Gamble, Nabisco and Pepsico over the last few years. What does this tell you?

  • socrates

    Is anybody at the YDN willing to pursue these questions?

  • Yale 08

    @interested observer,

    Because those upper level managers have alternatives. VP Peel could easily garner another position at another elite university.

    Support staff? Not so much mobility.

    Administrative bloat is a luxury during growth periods. But an albatross to be jettisoned during slower times.

  • interested observer

    @Yale 08. Not so sure about the "easily" part. What exactly is his skill/product? In other words, what does he know or do that makes him uniquely valuable to Yale? Do you imagine all the "human resource" people at poorer schools are inept? Seems to me Peel's claim to fame is part and parcel of the I'm worthwhile-because-I've-figured-out-how-to-get-the-big-bucks mentality that has produced a culture that's all about money and very little about anything of lasting value. That makes Yale behind the curve, not ahead of it.

  • Yale 08

    For the simple reason that he now has YALE emblazoned on his resume.

    I know nothing about Peel.

    But Yale has a way of impressing people.

  • YaleProf

    During the past 15 years, the faculty at Yale has grown very slowly, but the administrative ranks have simply exploded. They now view us as a nuisance. The place is really about them and what they want.

  • Anonymous

    it does seem like what 7 is saying is true. faculty has grown slowly- the yale tenure process is a beast- but it seems like, at every turn, theres new deputy director, a new vp, a new manager. administrative bloat, yes.

  • dismayed by it all

    If you are an admin and friendly with your senior manager and can "play the game" better than any one else, you get to write your own ticket to a promotion with your manager's blessing. Regardless if it is deserved or warranted, your promoted! I've seen more mid management positions "created" more than once. And in these times of reducing staff, those mid management "created" jobs never get touched. Interesting….

  • Anon

    Hm, what about faculty spouse hires? Those are well-protected positions and almost always completely pointless.

    To #7, administering to the whims of faculty is a challenge--ask any chair who's tried to do it. Administrators are disdained by faculty and they make their disdain abundantly clear. In an environment in which abuse can be heaped on your head and you have no protection makes for a pretty stressful and unpleasant workplace. I've seen faculty have tantrums I wouldn't stand for in a four-year-old, but we all have to bow and scrap and say "yes, sir" as if they have a rational and valid view. If you wonder why faculty might be viewed as a nuisance---recognize that the department administrators have been put in the position of being responsible for the financial and human resource-related behaviors of the faculty but without any necessary authority or recourse to impose consequences. That is a very unpleasant place to be when dealing with a population who for the most part don't believe the rules apply to them.

    You get back what you put out and I'd say most faculty have missed some vital part of life education which involves dealing professionally and appropriately with co-workers (yes, the word is co-workers, not slaves).

    And yes, there is too much corporate know-how being misapplied to Yale. Let's get good people with higher-ed experience instead of executives who know how to make money off of the excessive consumption sugar, fat and salt. Experience in OUR industry is valuable, not experience in ANY industry.

  • YaleProf2

    #7 In my experience, administrative staff, especially at the department level, exhibit a "can't do" attitude at all turns. I've never witnessed the type of faculty temper tantrum you've described, but I have daily witnessed staff who have a very narrow sense of what their job responsibilities entail, with the remainder falling to the faculty. Saying, "not my job" about every task except ordering supplies and shuffling expense reimbursement paperwork is probably not the best strategy if one wants to make oneself indispensable during an economic downturn.

  • YaleProf

    #10: some of what you say is unfortunately true. But I suspect that half the upper administrators at Yale would just get rid of the entire faculty if they could. The place is about teaching and research, and most of them don't understand that.

  • Loyal Admin Staffer

    #11, I am truly sorry that your experiences dealing with staff have been so frustrating and unsatisfactory. However, please don’t generalize about all admin staff. As a staff member I, along with many others across campus, am dedicated to my department and the University and enjoy and take pride in my job. We do what is necessary, sometimes above and beyond, to make sure that our departments run smoothly and the needs of faculty are addressed. Unfortunately, it is true that there are those staff members who tag along, reaping the benefits of our contract with little or no effort put forth in earning their daily pay and benefits. It is also sadly true that there are faculty members who take advantage of staff, expect personal tasks and errands to be done and really do throw temper tantrums. I actually had to dodge a book once which was thrown by an esteemed member of the medical school faculty (he missed). Thankfully, most faculty members do not behave that way and appreciate and respect the staff.

  • Well said, #13

    Nicely said, #13.

    Let's see, how about a quick poll of all the things that have been thrown by faculty at a staff member. Certainly there is an infamous story of a heavy glass ashtray winging past a person's head at a professional school that shall remain nameless. No consequences to the faculty member, of course.

    What else has been thrown at the staff? Let's hear it.It could be a fun way to wrap up the week.