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.
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.