Pay cuts, more furloughs coming to RWU

By Ben Crawley / News Editor

The university administration has decided to furlough more employees and reduce pay for employees across the board in an attempt to fill an $11 million gap in the budget. This decision resulted mostly from giving refunds back to students in the wake of COVID-19.

 

According to an all-employee email sent out on April 6, 130 more employees will be temporarily furloughed through June 30, bringing the total to 312. The email states that eligible employees who are furloughed will be able to keep their health insurance. Faculty are not affected by these furloughs, as they are all teaching. 


Temporary pay cuts were also put into place. After some negotiating between the faculty union and administration, the cuts were implemented in a tiered system. They are as follows:

 

 

  • The president and vice presidents are taking a 15% cut  

 

  • Employees making over $120,000 — 11% cut 

 

  • Employees making between $100,000 to $119,999 — 10% cut

 

  • Employees making between $80,001 to $99,999 — 8% cut

 

  • Those making under $80,000 — 6% cut 
 

Adjuncts are not affected by these cuts.

 

[Adjuncts] work very hard, they’re devoted to their jobs and they are not compensated very well,” said June Speakman, president of the RWU Faculty Association. As president of the union, she worked with the administration to agree on these pay cuts. 


“It’s a big hole to fill and it’s unexpected,” Speakman said.

 

According to Speakman, it took roughly two weeks to come to agreement on this, with input from the faculty. The original proposal by the administration was a 10% pay cut across the board, however Speakman and the union countered back with the tiered system that was agreed upon. 


Speakman said faculty had many concerns with the proposals, many stemming from distrust born from actions taken by past administrations. However, she said these negotiations were civil and truthful.  


“As the president of the union, I am extraordinarily proud of the members of my union for the way we made this decision together, which not everyone was happy with,” Speakman said. “I really hope we can build a full first year class and get everybody back to campus this September.”


Along with the temporary pay cuts and furloughs, the university has also taken measures to save money such as cutting back on energy costs and moving landscaping to in-house staff.


“These measures and others, while extremely difficult, are providing the ability to weather this financial impact,” said Jerome Williams, executive vice president for finance and administration at the university. “I need to express my deep appreciation for the faculty and staff who have agreed to the measures that impact them directly or were temporarily furloughed.”


According to Williams, the savings so far from the pay cuts and furloughs are around $4.2 million. He also said the school is receiving $2.6 million from the CARES act passed by Congress in late March. He is looking into increasing donations to the endowment as well.


“There is still the unknown as to how long this outbreak will continue, but taking measures on a timely basis provides a better outcome than not being prepared,” Williams said. “Our intent is to meet our obligations and have a balanced budget by June 30.” 


These staff furloughs are across the board, with every department being affected. According to the Vice President of Student Life John King, his department is greatly affected. 


“Student Life is probably impacted the most in terms of decreased work flow and engagement with students as a result of COVID-19,” King said. “Thus, there was appropriately a higher degree of furloughs experienced within Student Life.”


He said with no students on campus, the Student Life department is hampered in doing its job.

 

“Without the opportunity for students to live on campus, engage in student activities through clubs and organizations, residence hall programs, athletics, music, arts and traditions like poetry slam, spring week, cake off, and senior events, the valuable work of our student life staff can’t be delivered in the same manner,” King said.


However, King said they are planning for the next academic year when students come back.