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Layoffs hit SLU workers today

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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CANTON — Layoffs are coming to St. Lawrence University today.


The university announced that several clerical and service staff positions will be cut, with notifications going out today to affected staff. Details were unavailable Tuesday.


"Ultimately, we will not know the precise number of positions affected and we really will not know precisely who will be affected until tomorrow," university spokeswoman Macreena A. Doyle said Tuesday. "I can't provide any numbers at this point."


The university needs to trim $1.8 million from its administrative staffing budget. The reductions are part of a plan to help combat an estimated $5 million-a-year deficit for the next several years, according to a report from the university's recession response and planning task force.


The college's annual operating budget is $110 million, according to its website.


Meetings were held Tuesday with department heads to discuss the layoffs. Individuals will be notified privately.


All non-teaching staff positions are under consideration, including those represented by the university's unions, CSEA-Local 630, Service Employees International Union-Local 200 and the Professional Campus Public Safety Officers Affiliated, according to Ms. Doyle. The CSEA represents clerical staff and SEIU is for service employees, including maintenance and dining services staff.


Since August, the college has been working on ways to reduce its budget, presenting a list of recommended reductions early this year. Recommendations included a hiring freeze and reductions in travel and salaries, among other things.


"We underwent workforce assessment that was for all non-teaching positions," Ms. Doyle said. "The plan has been completed for the most part, but things are still in flux."


The college has instituted many of the changes proposed by the recession response and planning task force, including pay cuts to senior staff and changes in the mailing policy. Many open positions have not been filled and are slated to be cut permanently.


The university also offered a voluntary severance package to 66 senior staff this year. A quarter of those eligible took advantage of the deal, which ended last month. The 16 volunteers were not enough to eliminate the need for layoffs, Ms. Doyle said.


The college has approximately 840 employees, including about 580 non-teaching staff, she said.


The announcement comes as no surprise to many of the university's employees.


"We all know the financial situation of the university, so we knew this was a possibility," said Richard C. Sprague, president of CSEA-Local 630 and senior circulation technician at the Owen D. Young Library. "The tension has been very high on campus all year."

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