Jim Bradley, president of the UMPSA (professional staff union, USM) gave us permission to share this email. SOLIDARITY WITH STAFF. RESCIND STAFF LAYOFFS.
The last few weeks have been very stressful for all of us as USM deals with trying to address the budget shortfall for the next fiscal year. On March 14, President Kalikow announced that she was proposing four program eliminations and approximately 50 faculty and staff layoffs. On March 21, 12 faculty received retrenchment (layoff) notices effective at the end of this semester. Over the last few weeks we've had approximately 22 salaried and hourly staff layoffs and/or forced schedule reductions and Theo made it clear that more would come once we got past commencement.
You all have seen the protests that have been occurring since March 21 so there is no need for me to say anything more about that.
Earlier today, at the faculty senate meeting in Lewiston, Theo announced that she was rescinding the faculty layoffs that were issued on March 14. She instructed the faculty senate to come up with their own proposals for achieving $7 million in savings and to present her with their plan by May 31. My understanding is the, now 3, program eliminations were not rescinded and the faculty senate has until May 5 to present an alternative plan to save those programs and the 8 faculty assigned to them.
The faculty senate, in a gesture of support for staff, passed a resolution today asking Theo to freeze future staff layoffs until after they have a chance to submit the cost savings plan to her on May 31. I am grateful to them for passing this resolution, although I am not optimistic that Theo will honor it. I have thanked the faculty leadership and am hopeful that UMPSA will have a role in a new budget committee that is being set up by the senate and Theo to address the budget shortfall. I have asked Theo to not only honor the faculty resolution, but to also rescind the 22 layoffs/reductions for staff. Again - I am not optimistic that she will do either!
I want to stress that this is a very dangerous time for all of us, not only due to the threat of layoffs from administration, but also the natural inclination to have an "us against them" culture where staff are being pitted against faculty. I honestly can admit that I personally have been guilty of this, even as recently as today, and this only serves to help administration. If we are divided it's much easier for administration to manipulate all of us. I sincerely believe that faculty value the support staff and they do not want to see staff cut any further. They do, as I think we all agree, want to see administration target top administrators who make in excess of 100K yet do not teach a single student or provide support to students (as we do). I have had several conversations and email exchanges with faculty leaders today (and the last few days) that makes me feel encouraged that faculty are trying to support staff.
The reality of the situation is there will be more staff layoffs. My goal is to work to ensure that top administrators earning 100K or more are seriously considered first for future layoffs. This is a goal we share with the faculty and a position we can stand united with them on. It's also a position that our students support! The faculty have also drafted some key guidelines/proposals of possible ways to save money and I think many of them we can support, including ending the hiring of consultants do to the work that we are already paying administrators to do!
Over the next couple of weeks UMPSA's chapter executive board will be meeting to discuss all of this and to hopefully find ways to help the faculty craft a proposal that saves the money we need to save without decimating support staff. We will also continue to have conversations with faculty and AFUM leadership to find areas where we can agree and collaborate our efforts.
I will keep you updated, hopefully weekly, as we move forward on these very important challenges.
President, UMPSA - USM