Citing the "incredible financial cost" associated with not fully reopening its campus this fall, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy has calculated nearly $169 million in budget losses and is now placing 850 workers, including dining and residence hall staff, on indefinite furloughs effective Sept. 13.
"Because their union representation agreed to a furlough rather than a layoff, they will retain their UMass benefits, including healthcare, while still being entitled to unemployment benefits," Subbaswamy wrote in an email Thursday to the campus community. "This agreement will also enable a smooth re-employment process when the campus resumes normal operations."
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And there will likely be additional labor impacts at the flagship UMass campus.
"While some permanent layoffs are expected in the coming weeks, we are doing everything possible to lessen the number of layoffs and are currently in discussions with other staff labor unions with the hope of reaching an agreement that prioritizes temporary reductions in hours and furloughs, which will likely impact approximately 450 additional campus employees," according to Subbaswamy.
The personnel actions will leave the campus with a $20.3 million deficit, the chancellor said, adding: "We will continue to forcefully advocate with the state and federal governments for support to help stabilize the campus budget and prevent more personnel cuts to make up that deficit."
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Subbaswamy's email alluded to messaging from Beacon Hill, where the state is operating without an annual budget in place two months into the fiscal year.
He wrote that the UMass Board of Trustees "has directed the campus to budget for a contingency equal to a 10% hold-back in our state appropriation allocation ($36.7 million) due to uncertainties in the state budget, as well as other factors, including further potential pandemic-related losses or additional expenses throughout the year."