Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Layoff By Any Other Name

Just because a manager doesn't want to call it a layoff doesn't mean it isn't one.

A Hypothetical Example

Let's say, hypothetically, that a manager is shutting down a particular workgroup and eliminating the positions in that group. Let's further say, hypothetically, that the manager wants to get rid of the employees in the group without calling it a layoff.

Instead, the manager tells his employees that, even though their current positions are about to be eliminated, he's done them a big favor and found them temporary jobs elsewhere. The jobs may be in Foundation (where employees are unrepresented, with no contract and no one to speak for them), or they may be temporary positions within the bargaining unit, where the employee can be let go with little notice. They might even be permanent positions, but with a lower classification, pay rate, or time base.

Of course, the manager doesn't tell the employees he's trying to trick them into quitting their jobs, giving up their rights and benefits for nothing. He definitely doesn't tell employees about their rights under the layoff provisions of the contract, and the campus doesn't notify the union of a layoff.

When a steward gets wind of this, and starts asking questions, the manager insists it isn't a layoff, and that the employees are voluntarily choosing to leave their jobs and move to other positions.

A Camouflaged Layoff Is Still a Layoff

Guess what? It's still a layoff. The manager is trying con the employees into quitting their jobs, so that they lose all their rights, and he doesn't have to deal with union representatives who know the employees' rights. Removing an employee from stateside service this way equals a layoff, no matter how a campus tries to disguise it.

If a situation like this develops on your campus, contact your LRR and the bargaining team immediately. (If only one bargaining unit is involved, you can contact Dennis and the Chair and Vice Chair of the bargaining unit, rather than the whole team.) If you're not sure, err on the side of caution and sound the alarm sooner rather than later. The bargaining team will never mind hearing about a developing situation on your campus, but you could do real damage by waiting until the layoffs-by-another-name are already happening just because you're not sure.

The January article about layoffs has a quick overview of what all union officers and stewards should know.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some slippery managers will try to get employees to give up their rights and ignore the contractual process. Any discussion about changing a job or position should be documented in a memo or email to capture and clarify the intent.