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I’ve been having meetings with my tutoring staff every two weeks via Zoom during the summer, and a few weeks ago, a bunch of them basically said that they think I should have figured out a way to lay half of them off so they could go on unemployment while the other half did all the work. They were upset because they are making less money working for me this summer than they would be on unemployment because of the extra $600 in unemployment that was part of the federal coronavirus relief package (which just expired). Honestly, this thought had never even crossed my mind. We’re a union shop and a public college, so it’s not clear to me that I could have just decided to do this on my own even if I had thought of it, and there was absolutely no discussion along these lines on my campus as far as I am aware. I assume (although I have not asked) that the college would rather be paying people to serve students rather than paying out unemployment claims, although I don’t know how the fact that, with the extra $600, for a while some part time folks would have made more on unemployment than they would have working, would have influenced that thinking. It just never came up. I thought I was doing a good thing keeping my entire staff employed, and after all, my job is to make sure students get served. Also, keeping them working throughout the summer helps ensure I can keep them working in the fall. One of them brought it up again at this most recent meeting, so it’s clear it’s still on their minds.
So here is what I’m wondering: Did any of you lay off staff on purpose so they could get the extra $600? Were you told to do it, or did you decide to do it on your own? Did any of you consider it but not do it either because you were told not to or for some other reason? Did your status as a public vs. private college influence that decision? Will you be able to easily rehire the staff you laid off? Feel free to reply to me off-list if you don’t want your answers to be public.
Michele Costabile Doney, M.S.Ed.
Director, Student Academic Consulting Center & Immersion Programs
Baruch College, CUNY
55 Lexington Avenue, Box B2-116
New York, NY 10010
NCLCA Learning Center Leadership Certification Level Three
The SACC Website: https://baruch.cuny.edu/sacc/
The Coalition for Undoing Racism at Baruch (CURB): https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/curb/