Union denounces staff cuts at Georgia public colleges during pandemic

Union leaders say their findings, compiled in a 14-page report, show schools in the university system should “cut up” when they cut jobs. They demand in the report that schools prioritize rehiring people of color and women whose jobs have been cut in the past year and said they will continue to advocate for those issues. Other demands include urging administrators to focus any future cuts on managers and bring staffing levels to at least pre-pandemic baseline levels.

To exploreUnited Campus Workers of Georgia Job Loss Report

“These job cuts are not new to the USG; they show a continuing trend, ”part of the executive summary said. “The large job loss illustrated here is a testament to the shrinking public education workforce in Georgia, whereby 1) people are made redundant or vacancies are never filled on behalf of” l ‘efficiency’ as unreasonable workloads are imposed on fewer workers; 2) jobs are contracted out to private companies; and 3) a policy of austerity continues to reduce campus services while producing more and more job insecurity for exploited workers.


United Campus Workers of Georgia, Communications Workers of America member Sara Giordano, holds a sign demanding that colleges and universities “cut from the top” when they cut jobs. (Contributed /) Daniel Horowitz

Officials in the university system, however, said in a statement that the report was flawed in several ways.

They said this does not reflect employees who have made voluntary departure agreements. For example, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University said that 286 and 201 faculty and staff, respectively, eligible for retirement, participated in the agreements.

System officials note that race or ethnicity was not known to many former employees, which they say was downplayed in the report. They also said that several alternatives mentioned by the union to compensate for budget cuts, such as tapping into institutional funds or taking out loans at low interest rates, are “uninformed”.

“This report is flawed and misleading, based on flawed logic and a misinterpretation of the facts,” system officials wrote.

System officials did not provide their own data in their response detailing the number of job cuts linked to the pandemic. Their response noted that the five schools with the highest percentage of workforce decline – more than 10% in four of the schools – also had enrollment declines.

Union leaders criticized several decisions made by system leaders and college presidents during the pandemic, such as requiring professors to get approval from their supervisor if they wanted to teach remotely to avoid being exposed to someone. with COVID-19. Last year, the union also raised concerns that non-supervisory workers would suffer the brunt of job cuts.

The system had nearly 48,000 employees last fall, down more than 1,560 workers from the previous fall, according to annual reports posted on its website. The largest decreases were recorded among service / maintenance workers, secretarial / clerical staff and paraprofessionals.

Further staff cuts have taken place at some of the larger schools in the system, such as the UGA and the State of Georgia, with more than 500 fewer full-time and part-time employees each, according to the report of the union. UGA, however, has not seen any layoffs related solely to the pandemic, system officials said.

For those who have lost their jobs, decisions always hurt.

At Kennesaw State University, which had an increase of 33 employees during the review period, some former workers believe they were not treated fairly.

Melissa Monsibais, who worked at Kennesaw State for about three years as a food service assistant, was told in October that her position was being cut. Monsibais, 53, did not understand the reasoning. The food service, she said, was making a profit. An executive chef from another department asked if she could work for him. It was not an option, she said, an administrator told her.

Kennesaw state officials referred AJC to the university system for response.

Melissa Monsibais, 53, said her job at Kennesaw State University was cut last year.  She believes her post has been needlessly deleted.  PHOTO CONTRIBUTES.

Melissa Monsibais, 53, said her job at Kennesaw State University was cut last year. She believes her post has been needlessly deleted. PHOTO CONTRIBUTES.

Monsibais, who is Latina, said she started talking to union leaders and discovered similarities among employees who had been fired. Most were 50 years or older, women and minorities.

“I ticked all the boxes”, she noted.

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