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Published: Friday, 4/29/2011

Government funding cuts

UT budget plan calls for tuition hike, layoffs

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With government funding on the decline, the University of Toledo will lay off dozens of nonfaculty employees on both campuses — including potentially 62 patient care aides at the UT Medical Center — as it formulates a budget for next fiscal year, according to university and union officials on Friday.

Tuition at UT, meanwhile, will be raised for next school year, and the hike likely will be near the state’s 3.5 percent cap, UT President Lloyd Jacobs said.

Dr. Jacobs has warned the university will lose $20 million a year in state funding if Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s recent two-year budget proposal remains unchanged. UT’s budget for the fiscal year was $812 million, including UTMC, and the university has 10,000 employees on both campuses.

UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, has told the union representing clinical employees that jobs of patient care aides, who help with meals and other tasks, will be eliminated. Meanwhile there will be more registered nurses at the hospital, said Tom Kosek, president of AFSCME Local 2415.

“If that actually happens, it will be better for the community,” Mr. Kosek said, because patients will receive a higher level of care.

Hopefully, idled patient care aides will be able to find jobs in other hospitals or other settings, he added of employees also called nurses aides.

“Unfortunately, these are some very good people who gave a lot to the institution over the years,” Mr. Kosek said. “We wish there could be a better way.”

Dr. Jacobs also commended employees who will be laid off, although he did not go into specifics about job eliminations. Notifications were to go out yesterday, Monday, and Tuesday, he said.

“It’s very hard because, as you know, we’ve worked so hard to do this through attrition,” Dr. Jacobs said. “These are good people.”

Layoffs will affect fewer than 100 positions in the hospital, in academic units, and among support units, Dr. Jacobs said. An exact number will not be known until the middle of next week, he said.

Savings will be in the millions of dollars, Dr. Jacobs said. Union bumping rights, as well as the possibility for some affected employees to move into vacant jobs, will affect the overall layoff numbers and savings amount, he said.

AFSCME Local 2415 has been told some secretarial and support staff jobs also will be eliminated, the union’s Mr. Kosek said.

There also will be layoffs among nonunion employees and members of another union at UT, Communications Workers of America Local 4319, according to UT. That union’s president could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Dr. Jacobs said he is finalizing the university’s proposed budget, which will be presented to the UT Board of Trustees on May 16. The budget needs the board’s approval by July 1.

Top UT administrators, including Dr. Jacobs, will forgo raises for the third year, the president said. Whether other employees will receive raises has not yet been determined, Dr. Jacobs said.

Mr. Kosek, the Local 2415 president, said he hopes administrators consider taking pay decreases and doing away with their bonuses to help cut costs.

This is not UT’s first budget cycle that has featured layoffs.

A year ago, UT laid off 36 employees on the main and health science campuses, saving about $2 million.

UT in April, 2009, laid off nearly 100 employees — including about 40 at the former Medical College of Ohio — and eliminated 200 vacant positions. Another about 75 UT Health Science Campus employees were laid off or had hours reduced later.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.



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