Temple Screws Over Its Secretaries II

So remember when I told you about how Temple abruptly fired much of its secretarial staff in certain departments. The unions put out their press release on the matter Saturday.

“Temple AFSCME and TAUP join in condemning the recent inhumane and hastily executed actions by Temple’s administration against a group of employees in the AFSCME bargaining unit. 19 employees in CLA and other locations in the University were suddenly informed last week that their jobs would be terminated, and that they would need to reapply for newly classified positions. They were given 24 hours to schedule interviews, 48 hours to submit their applications and 72 hours to secure letters from recommendation. To add to the outrage, they were subjected to 10 minute ‘interviews’ in which they were asked questions designed to have them identify fellow co-workers as inessential. This Wednesday, a mere ten days after being initially informed of this process, these employees were informed of their fate: Nineteen were fired and escorted from the building by the building manager or security guards; they now face finding new jobs in the worst economic environment in decades. [They were given no severance pay.] Many others were shifted around to other departments in CLA, ejected from jobs they had done well for years or even decades. 

To brutalize workers in this way shows how little Temple’s administration cares about due process and common decency. To do so without any consultation with the staff or faculty who actually run departments (not to mention doing all the teaching and research) shows the contempt Temple’s administration holds for the people most central to the core missions of the university the administration presumes to run. These moves, made in the name of efficiency, will actually make things less efficient, harming the proper functioning of departments. Faculty and staff will now have to do more with less; and staff will have to learn new jobs on the fly. Their morale has been compromised by this heartless and arbitrary treatment, as has the trust of department chairs, program directors, and other faculty administrators in the central administration. We have no doubt that students will be adversely effected, for their needs will now be met by fewer people, however competent and dedicated to students these people are.

AFSCME is pursuing every means of addressing the failure of Temple’s administration to fulfill their contractual and legal obligation to engage in impact bargaining over this situation, which has so far resulted in the improper loss of 10 jobs. On the contrary, only one day’s notice was given to AFSCME. One motive behind this brutal process is clear—to reduce the number of AFSCME jobs in CLA, through firings and through re-defining 8 other jobs as non-union.

This kind of indecent treatment is not what we expect from a University that claims to value humanism and respect. This attack on 19 colleagues is an attack on everyone who works for the University.

From TAUP’s point of view, this unprecedented action is a travesty to faculty governance, as there was a complete lack of faculty input. Although this situation does not directly impact on TAUP’s contract, it affects the people who work closely with the faculty, and the way academic
work gets done in the various departments.

Please stay tuned for more information, and please inform TAUP if you have any hint of this process going on in your college. We have been told that it is the administration’s plan to extend this cruel, arbitrary, and short-sighted model throughout the University.”

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