Western Illinois University sent lay off notices to more than 100 employees in April as part of a cost cutting measure to cope with a drastic decrease in state aid. More than half of them will be asked to come back to work for the fall semester.
WIU Budget Director Matt Bierman said about 60 people who were laid off will be recalled within the next couple weeks. He said the university can’t make it through the fall semester without them.
"Like in the custodial, we could not open the campus at the rates we have," Bierman said. "We don’t have enough people to clean all the bathrooms if we don’t bring some of these people back. So, it’s really based upon need."
According to the results of a Freedom of Information Act request, most of the employees who received lay off notices in April were affiliated with a union. The bulk were civil service employees with a few faculty members included. Bierman said the decision to recall some employees and not others was based upon need, not any individual.
Bierman said Western’s financial situation has improved in the short term. That’s thanks to the stop gap funding passed by the Illinois legislature to keep government services running until the end of the calendar year. But, he said it fails to provide any long term certainty for the university.
"We are making this decision because that's what we need in the fall semester. Will things look different next summer? I don't know yet. Whether we will have to do something like this again. We don't know that. We'll have to see what they come up with for the next funding proposal in Springfield," Bierman said.
Despite the recalls, Western will be continuing its employee furlough program that affects non-negotiated employees through the fall semester.