Temple Screws Over Its Secretaries

Oh, the humanities!

Disturbing news over at my old alma mater, Temple University. Turns out that the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University fired yesterday half of its secretarial staff without two weeks notice with pay, many of whom had worked at Temple for years. According to what I’m hearing, they did so without any union involvement or faculty input.

Why? Well, looks like $40 million needed to be cut from the budget and the Provost Office and HR came up with this brilliant (Board of Trustees) approved plan. A plan that didn’t involve informing employees. A plan that didn’t make provisions for voluntary cuts. A plan that did not include the approval faculty representatives (they were excluded from the Board meeting).

One would think a union would protect employees. Well, faculty union and Temple are deadlocked in the middle of contract negotiations. The AFSME is the union for administrative assistants and it had not settled its contract either. According to what I’m told, if you are working without a contract you can be fired due to economic necessity without following whatever procedure is in the contract you used to work under (which is usually last hired first fired). But seniority wasn’t even followed in this case. Looks like they arbitrarily fired people.

(Blame the economy, huh?)

So Temple faculty working without a contract (which puts them at risk), but Temple is cutting staff ostensibly to avoid cutting faculty. How much longer can they avoid doing that? And we all know secretaries are the backbone of any institution.

Naturally, in this climate, layoffs aren’t necessarily a surprise. But the fact that they were done in such a non-transparent manner is alarming. Very alarming.

Maybe I should send Dan Polette, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (a car dealer who owns a string of dealerships on the Main Line: Porche, Audi, Jaquar, etc.), a letter telling him how I feel about this. Yup, I think I will.

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4 responses to “Temple Screws Over Its Secretaries

  1. wow – I start at Temple in September. Had a great experience with a secretary in the Financial Aid office a while ago after I received a letter requesting a copy of my marriage certificate. (I’m not married. Never have been.)
    The woman I spoke with was friendly, humorous, and efficient. I don’t know if she was laid off, but Temple will be a worse place without her and the countless other professionals that keep the wheels at organizations such as this spinning.

  2. This is a great blog post. And Gregory, I’m worried for you. I teach at Temple, and I am contingent, as are a majority of the faculty there. Hired every fifteen weeks w/o job security, no benefits, no office in many cases — with maximum class number going up over the years from 18 to 28 but NO increase in salary. Most of your faculty will be part-time, teaching not only at Temple but at other universities in the area. Rushing from classes on campus to teach elsewhere. You won’t be able to find them. Most of them won’t have offices. Not only will be there be no secretaries and support staff to help you, but you will have so few full-time professors available to you that you will feel isolated, confused and alone most of the time. At least that’s why my students have told me, with increasing rage, over the last several years.
    What can students do? Demand courses taught by full-time faculty — refuse to take anything else unless they charge you 1/3 of the tuition — since that’s what contingents are paid — 1/3 of what a full-time faculty member would get for teaching the same course, having the same degrees, and often having more years of experience. Join the strikes and actions that will invariably be taking place this fall. Take a look at my website: http://www.junctrebellion.com for more information about this, and join us there — we need a growing number of voices to put an end to all this. Academia is being destroyed by administrators who never teach — what do they know about what it takes to teach? what do they care that secretaries who have devoted 30 years of their lives to the institution may now be facing poverty and homelessness?

    Short answer: they don’t. Administrators now outnumber faculty on every campus across the country. And these are administrators hired to bust unions for the very reason that we see here — their ability to stall contract negotiations and to fire for economic reasons anyone they deem needs firing.

    Where does that leave all of you who are students? Screwed. Seriously screwed.

    ‘Junct Rebellion has a Facebook page too — join us there.

  3. Pingback: Turns out Some Comments = Spam « My Philadelphia Story

  4. Hi, very nice post. I have been wonder’n bout this issue,so thanks for posting

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