Most staff will furlough one day a week; Oregon Work Share will help ease financial burden
Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) announced this week a plan to implement staff furloughs beginning May 17 as an immediate step to help manage anticipated budget deficits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The furlough program was collaboratively developed between the university administration and its unclassified and SEIU-represented classified staff.
The university is taking a series of early financial actions, starting with furloughs, to address an expected reduction of $4.5 million in state support during the next fiscal year starting on July 1. The furlough actions are expected to save approximately $2.0 million in payroll costs for the university.
While an internal university group, the Program Reduction and Elimination Committee, will provide recommendations in early June to Oregon Tech’s president for other cost savings measures, the university is implementing furloughs beginning May 17 and through December 31, 2020. Nearly all classified and unclassified staff at all levels will see weekly work schedules reduced by 20 percent, or one day per week, to begin addressing the budget gap. Some members may see their schedules reduced by 40 percent (2 days a week). Faculty are currently not included in the furlough program. Oregon Tech’s president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan, announced last month that he was taking a voluntary 10 percent salary reduction.
“We are very proud of our staff members for their mutual and shared sacrifice as a way to protect our ability to serve students and to operate at a high level of effectiveness,” said Dr. Naganathan. “No one area of the university or group of employees can or should bear the full brunt of cost reductions. While this program alone will not solve all of the fiscal deficit issues we face in the coming months and years, it will go a long way in closing the gap.”
The university has applied to the Oregon Employment Department to take part in the Work Share Oregon program, enabling employees to receive unemployment insurance benefits for the days they are on furlough, and maintain their regular healthcare and pension benefits.
Oregon Tech worked collaboratively with its SEIU-represented classified staff, signing a Letter of Agreement last week regarding the Work Share furlough program.
Darryn Stevens, president of SEIU 503 Sub-Local 90 and an Oregon Tech employee said, “We want to thank the Oregon Tech administration for the time they have spent communicating with us about Work Share, and putting together this agreement. We’re grateful for the collaboration and how well SEIU-represented employees at Oregon Tech are being recognized as valued members of our university community. I would also like to thank my SEIU team at Oregon Tech for their support in being part of this process, despite the difficulty of the situation we are all facing in the COVID-19 environment.”
Leadership of the university’s Administrative Council, a non-unionized group who represent unclassified administrative staff, have also shared their support. Zach Jones, chair of the Council said, “In times of crisis, we all take a moment to consider what matters most. For many of us, the obvious things come to mind: shelter, food, and family. But what also matters is Oregon Tech and its continuity in our communities for generations to come. All of us on the Administrative Council pledge to do our part to support Oregon Tech in meeting the emerging needs of our students, staff, and faculty when they need us most.”
President Naganathan added, “We most sincerely appreciate the collaborative leadership of our SEIU Local and our Administrative Council in developing this approach. This is a clear demonstration of a spirit of shared responsibility, to ensure the university can continue supporting students and Oregon Tech’s mission amid the impacts of the pandemic.”
Additional information on Oregon Tech’s COVID-19 response is available at www.oit.edu/coronavirus