UWS staff get notice jobs are ‘at risk’
About 28 grounds and custodial employees at the University of Wisconsin-Superior have received letters notifying them their jobs could be in jeopardy.
Officials have been meeting with employees for the past few weeks, so the losses wouldn’t come as a total surprise. Even though employees aren’t being laid off yet, the letters explain the layoff process. Then the workers are supposed to meet with human resources to discuss what the letter means and what their options are.
“It is definitely hard and we are doing this as carefully as we can,” said Lynne Williams, director of communications and marketing at UWS. “We do appreciate all the employees and want what is best for them. This is being done to further the institution.”
While a number of employees are at risk for layoffs, many are confused as to why the bookstore is hiring.
A private company, Nebraska Books, will be taking over the UWS bookstore starting July 1. The company posted a few job positions on Nebook.com.
“They are following their own hiring process,” Williams said. “Bookstore employees and other employees have the ability to apply for those jobs.”
Officials say custodial and grounds staff received letters because their contracts end this summer.
“Our budget cuts are going to affect all areas of the campus community,” Williams said. “These are the first groups to get letters because we don’t want it to greatly affect students, and many of the employees contracts will be up. We have to get the process moving.”
The letters and budget cuts are a part of the campus’ program prioritization and strategic planning process, which reviews UWS’ mission and vision on how the school can move forward in the future. It also provides an in-depth look at the university’s non-academic and academic programs.
Chancellor Renee Wachter discussed the strategic plan on Thursday at Swenson Hall.
“The official start of the next process begins today,” Wachter said. “We are looking at what is the best strategy to move forward. We plan to involve our partners, campus and community in this new effort.”
Williams said there is no time period for the at-risk letters. They are still in the beginning stages and have to take these steps in pieces.
“If an employee receives an at-risk letter, it’s not saying you have a certain amount of days before you’re laid off,” Williams said. “The letter just says their position is at risk; no one is being laid off yet. There will be an official letter for actual layoffs.”
Officials said a public meeting to share the news with the campus is expected next week.