26 Layoffs Approved by Board

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el-vaquero-staff-writer/" class="creditline">BONNIE SCHINDLER
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Twenty-six classified employees were laid off as a result of a vote at a special Board of Trustees meeting held May 27.

The official layoff notices went out on May 30, which gave employees the 30-day period they are entitled by law to receive before having to leave their jobs, said Dr. Nancy Knight, vice president of college services. Resolution 57, according to the board agenda, is the “proposal to lay off 26 classified employees due to extensive budget cuts in the community college system.”

Following a week of deliberation, Victor King, vice president of the board, separated the resolution into three parts, thus making the votes fair to each individual, King said. So, Resolution 57 became 57-A, 57-B and 57-C.

Resolution 57-A layoffs included 11 classified workers for example, student technicians and aides, who are employed under state and federal grant programs such as CalWorks and AmeriCorps. The State decided to discontinue the grants to pay for these programs; so the current funds will end on June 30 for these workers, King said.

“I agree with the logic of breaking [Resolution 57] down, and while this is still a difficult decision, if the funding goes away for these programs, it is our responsibility to cut them [employees working under these grants],” said board member Anita Quinonez Gabrielian. The board voted to cut these employees off, as well as those who were listed under resolution 57-B.

The second tier of the resolution, 57-B, included six classified workers from the child-care center and food services. The workers in 57-B receive their paychecks, “in theory, via the generation of money,” King said.

Larry Serot, executive vice president of administrative services, further explained this, saying, “Both the child center and the food service areas were established as being self-supporting – by fees that the center charges for care and by the revenue the food services takes in.” According to Serot, the cafeteria has “struggled to break even,” ever since the hourly workers, with no benefits, joined the classified employees.

“Given that, the cafeteria has not been able to break even, as approximately $63,000 is given at the beginning of the year to cover the employees’ benefits,” Serot said. The board said that making the decision to cut these workers was difficult but that it was part of the long-term plan.

“First, we started [to help the deficit] by cutting instructional programs this year. Second, we cut the second part of the summer session out, and finally we looked at both the child care and food services,” Serot said. By cutting two employees from the child-care center and four employees from the food services, Serot said, GCC was able to save $150,000, putting the board one step closer to balancing the budget.

The last and final section of the resolution, 57-C, was made up of nine classified employees who “had no other commonality besides the fact that they may be laid off,” King said.

The employees listed under 57-C were varied members of the campus. They included “three positions that worked in the Disabled Students or Financial Aid, ” Knight said. She explained that while most of the programs in the Disabled Center are under a grant, “the expenses of these programs is skyrocketing. For instance, some of the translators can cost up to $80 an hour.”

After the board voted, the meeting focused on rumors surrounding the layoffs.

Despite accusations that were brought up at a recent classified employees meeting, “the positions chosen to be laid off were at the bottom of the list ” Serot said. He added that the board in “no way targeted or picked on” layoff candidates. To double-check the accuracy of this statement, Armine Hacopian, board president, said, “The layoffs were given to administration directly from [the workers’] supervisors. But because of the close boss-worker relationship, the recommendations will be looked at.”

“We are certainly not balancing the budget on the backs of any classified employee,” Serot said.

King added, “We now know that the brunt will be on everybody.”