850 UMass workers to be furloughed; university faces huge budget gap

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Approximately 850 employees at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst will be placed on furlough in the coming month, with 450 additional workers possibly also facing furlough in the future.

In a message sent out to the campus community on Thursday, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said they are facing a $168.6 million loss in the campus operating budget, with much of the loss coming from declines in housing and dining revenue, as well as loss of tuition revenue.

The workers that will be furloughed starting on September 13 include dining hall workers and residence hall staff. Subbaswamy says the decision to furlough the workers came after negotiations with their union, AFSCME, which had agreed to furloughs to avoid layoffs that would have cost the employees their health care and other benefits.

Subbaswamy says permanent layoffs are expected in the coming weeks, but they are negotiating with other unions to arrange an additional 450 furloughs, so as to limit the number of layoffs.

“These are truly trying times for our campus community, one that is built on the value of our people. Our staff gives so much of themselves to advance the mission of the university, to serve our students, to support our research and to make the world a better place. These staff reductions are an absolute last resort and the result of agonizing decisions,” Subbaswamy wrote.

The chancellor added that while they have managed to save money through early retirements, spending cuts, and pay cuts for senior leadership, that- along with the furloughs- still leave the university with a $20.3 million deficit they will have to make up for.

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