A workers’ union at Kennesaw State University has petitioned the school not to layoff staff in the face of budget cuts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Georgia’s entire university system will undergo a 10% budget reduction, due to lower tax revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. KSU’s chapter of the union United Campus Workers of Georgia wants President Pamela Whitten to pledge not to cut personnel.
Pete Rorabaugh, a union member and assistant professor of English at KSU, says the university could implement furloughs and other cost-saving measures to avoid layoffs.
“We’re not pretending that there’s some idealistic solution to this that is not complicated and does not put a lot of us in the state university system…stretched or thin,” Rorabaugh says. “But keeping workers on the job is a really important economic priority to have right now in this moment.”
Originally, Gov. Brian Kemp asked state agencies, including the University System of Georgia, to cut their budgets by 14%. That was reduced to 11% and more recently 10%.
The Georgia Board of Regents agreed to implement a graduated furlough schedule, where employees who earn the most money will take more unpaid days that those who make less. But Rorabaugh says KSU should prioritize not laying off staff.
“The president of Georgia Southern came out in the beginning and said, ‘We’re going to really work hard to make this work, and we’re …committed to figuring out a way to do it without laying off workers,'” he says.
When asked about the petition, KSU said no reductions will be final until Gov. Brian Kemp signs the state budget. He’s expected to do so this week.