Public colleges and universities in Illinois may soon be able to furlough employees for up to three weeks.
The ongoing budget impasse has taken a toll on higher education. Regular state funding has dried up, replaced by a mere trickle of stop-gap money.
In an attempt to help cash-strapped schools maintain student services and jobs, the group representing civil service workers has proposed a new rule that would allow schools to force employees to take fifteen days off without pay. Jeff Brownfield is director of an association of civil service employees. He says the state budget impasse has left some schools in dire straits - and that they asked for this measure as an alternative to layoffs.
"As much as nobody wants this rule, including our office, we hope that this particular rule would give another outlet instead of people losing their jobs, losing their benefits,” said Brownfield.
But, AFSCME's Dave Beck says the rule fails to provide a way for thousands of unionized workers to negotiate what is essentially a pay cut.
"We don't believe in anything that's unilaterally imposed by the employer. If the employees want to decide to take furloughs, then that's their choice. They can negotiate it with the employer. But it should never be imposed on them,” saud Beck.
Although the rule would technically apply only to civil service employees, it could be used to furlough all employees, including faculty.
Last summer, Western and Northeastern Illinois universities used a now-expired emergency rule to furlough employees.
The new rule would include a sunset clause, terminating in October 20-17.