Champaign News-Gazette: Cuts likely for UI’s union, civil service employees

The GEO contract prevents bargaining unit members from being furloughed. The administration may seek to furlough other unionized campus workers, however, including academic professionals and civil service employees. Julie Wurth’s full article is available from the News-Gazette. The following excerpt includes a statement from GEO Communications Officer Peter Campbell:

Union officials also raised questions about the need for furloughs and the university’s budget priorities.

“I’m still not totally sure that the university is in as dire straits as they let on,” Miller said.

McGuire said the university’s budget actually grew by $500 million this year, from $4.2 billion to $4.7 billion, though not from state sources.

He noted that the governor hasn’t asked for a budget rescission yet.

“I’m not saying there isn’t an issue here, but I think they’re getting a little ahead of themselves,” McGuire said.

Miller wondered what the UI will do if and when the state catches up on its payments. Ikenberry indicated employees could be reimbursed if the UI receives its full appropriation, but he expressed doubt that that will happen.

Peter Campbell, communications officer for the Graduate Employees’ Organization, said the furlough policy is an improvement on earlier proposals. But he said furloughs aren’t necessarily “the best way to respond to this crisis.”

He’d like to see more efforts to shift funding away from administrative units to academic programs.