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.