URBANA - University of Illinois officials expect to lay off employees in the coming months because of state budget cuts, and they've put in place a hiring freeze for civil service employees.
The hiring freeze, which went into effect Monday, suspends any filling of vacancies other than where a job offer had already been made. The current job vacancies will be held for potential placement of laid-off employees.
Administrators say the freeze will help the campus deal with layoffs in a more organized way, as new hires would be the first to be laid off.
?This whole thing is designed to make a bad situation as good as possible for employees and the units,? Associate Provost Kathleen Pecknold said. ?The reason for the freeze is so we can reduce the number of layoffs. If we hold vacancies open, when we get the list of layoffs we'll have vacancies for (laid-off workers) to go into.
?If there is a real need and another unit that has funding for a position, we want to put one of our current employees in there.?
When the UI lays off workers, the least senior person in a particular job within an academic or administrative department is laid off first, but that worker can bump a less-senior employee in the same job classification elsewhere on campus. That means if a secretary with the least seniority in the architecture school is laid off, he or she can take the job of a secretary with less seniority than him or her in the math department.
Units on campus must identify employees for layoffs by April 18 for a June 30 layoff date and by June 20 for an Aug. 20 layoff date.
Those laying off employees on a short-term basis - for 30 work days or fewer - must identify those employees by April 18.
UI President James Stukel has said the university might have to eliminate at least 1,200 positions on its three campuses, depending on the extent of state budget cuts.
The UI also has been asked to give back to the state 8 percent of its current operating funds. For the Urbana campus, that would mean eliminating 150 to 200 workers in custodial services, maintenance and building planning and design, among other areas; 30 to 40 computer support staff; and more than 50 business and support staff positions.
The hiring freeze will affect virtually every area of campus. The UI has about 5,500 civil service employees. They are accountants; financial aid advisers; data processors; library and lab assistants; clerks; engineers; tradesmen, such as plumbers and machinists; nurses; secretaries; computer programmers; and workers in food service, laundry, maintenance and grounds.
?Because of the budget cuts we're anticipating, I think everyone has been holding off (hiring) anyway,? Pecknold said.
?They don't want to hire them and lay them off. I think everybody is anticipating doing more with less.?
You can reach Jodi Heckel at 351-5216 or via e-mail at email@example.com.