Budget cuts reduce Tech workforce by dozens

Given the current economic crisis, many state agencies are decreasing their workforce, and the University System of Georgia (USG) is no exception. While the USG has cut 55 more positions across the university system, Tech is taking the brunt of the layoffs with 51 positions in a variety of offices and colleges being eliminated.

The majority of the positions eliminated at Tech were from the administration or finance departments, but employees were laid off from other areas of Tech as well. These other areas included some of the academic colleges and the offices of the president and provost. The majority of the people laid off were under the age of 49, and about evenly split between male and female.

“Administration and Finance have the most [eliminated positions] because most of the positions were staff,” said Chuck Donbaugh, associate vice president of the Office of Human Resources.

Donbaugh described that there was a selective method used to consolidate the workforce in the various departments.

“If, for example, they needed to eliminate one administrative support position, and there were five [positions], they would first look at seniority,” Donbaugh said. “[The process for eliminations is following] a last-in, first-out approach.”

For other positions, this method could not work. This would be the case if, for instance, there was a particularly unique position. In these cases, there was analysis done of the individual departments’ budget requirements to find if there was a duplicate position or people that might be doing the same work. An effort was then made to try to consolidate the job responsibilities.

All the employees that are being laid off from Tech are eligible for a federal benefits package program, called COBRA, which provides laid-off workers with nine months of coverage. Also, there were some employees who were eligible for retirement and chose to retire and take their standard retirement benefits package.

Donbaugh further explained that all of the positions that were eliminated were due to the budget cuts, and not due to other personnel issues.

“These positions were the result of the budget issues,” Donbaugh said. “The consequence of having a budget shortfall … forces units to look at their broader organizations. When they realized they were facing these challenges, [they] looked at their work structure, tried to consolidate … and the consequence was that some positions were then eliminated.”

Despite the large number of job vacancies in the USG, there is in fact a moratorium on hiring, at least at Tech.

“Any position for which there is a request to fill needs to be reviewed by the appropriate office,” Donbaugh said. “It may be on the academic or the administrative side, but someone in the office of the President [needs to review it].”

There is also the issue of student positions at Tech. Donbaugh explained that the Office of Human Resources (OHR) deals with student positions from an employment perspective, since these positions are not handled by the OHR, especially those that are hired by academic departments.

“To my knowledge, [the layoffs] had very little effect on student positions,” Donbaugh said. “…[Departments] have tried not to [impact] their student employment base. They realize it’s a form of aid, so they try to keep their student workforce intact.”