Watchful eye being kept on areas after civil service layoffs

Cassie Buchman, Associate News Editor

Areas around campus have been investigating and watching to make sure student employees do not take the jobs or take over the job duties left by the civil service workers who have been laid off.

According to civil service rules, it is not allowed for a student employee to displace a certified Civil Service employee from their jobs.

Patty Shonk, the chief union steward for Eastern’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said if students take over work done by laid off employees, that means that the laid off employee is actually needed, and should not have been laid off in the first place.

Renee Kerz, the president of Eastern’s chapter of AFSCME, said issues have come up but they have been working with managers and immediate supervisors to prevent job displacement from happening.

“We have heard and checked in on it,” Kerz said.

The union had been investigating this issue since the layoff notices started and brought possible problems up to the management’s attention to get a resolution.

Kerz said there has been an ongoing investigation happening and they look into it whenever someone brings these issues to their attention, whether it is through tips from students or employees.

She said the biggest issue was with the Building Service Workers’ side, as they had student workers.

Tim Zimmer, director of facilities planning and management, said they had not hired students to replace laid off civil service employees and have no intention of it.

Students and others from different groups have offered to perform duties such as vacuuming and sweeping, but these offers were rejected after being reviewed for job displacement and erosion, which is when a student takes the job duties of a civil service employee.

Zimmer said these students offered to take on these tasks because they take pride in their locations, and want to see these areas in the same conditions they were in before the budget situation.

He said the recent layoffs have had an impact in every facilities department, and have caused them to prioritize safety and operational work over other things.

So far, Zimmer said, he has not seen any grievances filed by civil service workers and he has been in discussion with them as well.

“We have to look at each issue as it arises,” Zimmer said.

Shonk said civil service workers are able to file grievances with their immediate supervisors if they see student workers doing work they should not do, and if they are not satisfied with the answer they are given, they can go to the head of the department.

If they are still not satisfied, the grievance will go to employee and labor relations.

Jon Bell, a Building Service Worker who now works in Lumpkin, Klehm, Buzzard and the Tarble Arts Center, said he personally does not want to file a grievance, though it would be upsetting to see student workers displacing or eroding civil service workers after seeing more than 20 of his friends being laid off.

Bell said during this time, Building Service Workers are doing everything they can with less staff members, but it can be hard with so much to do.

Some people have been complaining about the system and cleaning and said they were going to do Building Service Workers’ jobs for them, which is not allowed, Bell said, but many have been supportive as well.

“Some people want to do our job. Others want us to do more work,” Bell said.

If something does not get done, it is not because BSWs do not want to do it, it is because they cannot, he added.

Along with their regular responsibilities, the BSWs also have to set up for events such as commencement and Greek Week with fewer staff members.

People who work in some offices can help a little by taking trash to common areas, emptying smaller trash cans into larger trash cans, and limiting trash from food and other waste.

They cannot, however, vacuum, sweep or do other things a BSW would normally do.

“We all know the final line. Nobody wants to try to cross that,” Kerz said. “We want to work together.”

Human resources officer Carol Galey said Eastern President David Glassman did not want to let go of any student employees, but they had the same duties they had before others were laid off.

Their hours were not increased, and there were no more hired, so the jobs for previous BSWs have been absorbed by other civil service workers.

Galey said they educated and notified all areas’, including facilities’, deans on the rules and the student employment office is watching to make sure no job displacement occurs.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]