Layoff Decision to Come Tuesday

After a lively debate, the GCC Board of Trustees on Monday delayed a decision on the number of layoffs among classified employees until Tuesday.

Before a full auditorium, the board discussed Resolution 57, a proposal to lay off 30 classified employees, which is considered necessary in the wake of the state budget crisis.

Classified workers include such non-faculty employees as cafeteria workers, gardeners, cooks and custodians.

“Because of the state’s current budget crisis, which calls for extensive budget cuts in the community college system, Glendale Community College District finds it necessary to lay off a number of classified employees,” according to the resolution. If approved by the board, the resolution will authorize the district to notify the affected employees that they will be laid off.

Representing the classified employees, Dvora Mayer, labor relations representative of the California School Employees Association, said that Monday’s proposal was a “unilateral action,” because the board and the employees had come to a different agreement a couple weeks ago that involved severance packages for the employees.

Dr. Nancy Knight, vice president of college services, responded by saying that the package to which Mayer referred had not been official and had not been “set in stone.”

Classified employees also contended before the board that the proposal constitutes an unfair labor practice because if a worker is laid off, another worker, such as a student, might have to pick up the slack.
Hiring hourly student workers to continue the work of the laid off classified employees “is a violation of the education code AB1419, which greatly prohibits contracting out work following a layoff,” Mayer said.

She added that she would be forced to take legal action against GCC if substitute hourly workers were hired, as doing so would be “a blatant disregard for the law.”

But Larry Serot, executive vice president of administrative services, said, “First, there will be no hourly workers, as we have reached our budget.” He added that current workers will not be picking up the slack. “They will not work more,” he said. “We will simply be less clean,” referring to the loss of hourly food service, maintenance and gardening workers. There will be fewer hours all across the board, “as we have reduced the student employment program and will not have student workers replace hourly workers, as stated in education article 88003,” Serot said.

Dr. John Davitt, GCC president, agreed with Serot.

“There cannot be layoffs without part-timers being laid off first,” Davitt said. With 375 classified staff members to maintain, “people must be sacrificed. Also, a lot of the staff is on a state grant that expires on June 1,” Davitt said. When the grant ends, so does the money and those deadlines must be dealt with, he said.

“It is important to do this [send layoff notices] now so that we may give notice prior to the fiscal year,” board member Victor King said. By law, employers need to give a 30-day notice to employees. According to Knight, there will be enough time if the board members postpone the vote on Resolution 57 until next week.

The resolution was moved to a special Board meeting to be held on May 27.
In the meantime, at a special meeting early last week, the Board of Trustees was presented with a list of exactly what programs and services would need to be cut as a result of the state budget crisis.

Even though there are lots of cuts in GCC’s future, “I am doing all I can to keep the cuts as far away as possible from students services,” Knight said.

Early education majors will lose programs such as the Americorps Tell Me a Story, Ready to Read and the First-Year Experience. The job development program and the teacher training will be cut, as well as sections of Extended Opportunity Program & Services, Disabled Students Programs and Services, and Saturday Health Center services. Services that benefited those seeking employment and references will also face “severe cuts,” Knight said.

To fix the $6.3 million state deficit, Serot suggested increasing revenue, giving retirement incentives (which would save GCC $700,000) and instituting layoffs.

In terms of course offerings, beginning in the summer of 2003, 100 classes will be cut, saving GCC $380,000. A total of 250 sections in the upcoming fall, winter and spring semesters will be cut, allowing $900,000 to be saved from GCC’s total cost, Serot said. The total saved will be $1,280,000.

Although these reductions sound significant, the 2003-2004 cuts are not even 10 percent of the amount needed to bring the budget out of debt, said Steve White, vice president of instructional services. A proposal by Gov. Davis may help to ease the tension.

“Last year, Gov. Davis projected a $530 million cut for the upcoming year (2003-2004),” but the hope is that the Gov. will downsize that total in his May 2003 proposal, Serot said. On the opposite end, the Republican budget plan does not include fee increases (as Davis’ does), but instead they want a 17 percent operational cut. “This would cut community colleges more than just fee increases,” Serot said. The true test may depend on the enrollment numbers.

“Our classrooms are fuller than ever,” White said. He added that the number of students coming to the Admissions Office and not getting into classes is higher than ever as well, White said. “People will still be at our doors lining up for classes, regardless of fee increases.”