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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Staff layoffs raise concerns over retention

    When she was informed that she had lost her job, Jane Cripps, a program coordinator for the Arizona Arthritis Center, felt frustrated and helpless.

    Even more surprising was the UA’s acknowledgment that she had lost her job by no fault of her own. Rather, her layoff resulted from a lack of funding within her department.

    Cripps, who

    The frustration comes from not seeing the university upset about this. Right now, it doesn’t seem like the university wants its employees to stay.

    -Jane Cripps,
    Arizona Arthritis Center

    received her notice in early November, is not the only UA employee set to enter the field of unemployment. Several other UA staff members have received layoff notices telling them to vacate their positions within 30 days, she said.

    Prior to 2004, employees who were laid off were protected by a university system that helped relocate them from various departments.

    That system has since been discontinued, leaving Cripps to fend for herself after five years of employment with the UA.

    “”It’s just unnecessary,”” Cripps said. “”I just don’t understand why (the university) is letting good employees go.””

    The discontinuation of the relocation system is due in large part to its ultimate ineffectiveness and in no way reflects university intent to stifle employment opportunities, said

    Leslie Porter, director of recruitment and employee advising for UA Human Resources.

    While the system guaranteed that laid-off employees were put on interview lists, Human Resources found that this process did not increase the chance of these employees being rehired, Porter said.

    The result was time wasted for both parties, she said, and the process gave laid-off employees a false sense of hope, as they were not qualified for the open positions.

    The current process of dealing with recently laid-off employees allows for staff to re-enter the UA job force at their original positions. However, such rules are open to easy manipulation by employers.

    If a former worker’s position opens back up within 364 days of the worker being laid off, the worker must be re-hired for the position, Cripps said. Employers can bypass that result with changes to the job title or description.

    A week after Cripps received her layoff notice in the mail, President Robert Shelton spoke of the importance of faculty retention and job security in his State of the University address, saying, “”We must put people first.””

    After reading about the address, Cripps said she was disappointed that overall staff retention was not as important to the UA as faculty preservation.

    “”The university talks a lot about caring about staff,”” Cripps said. “”But in this case, they just aren’t protecting their employees.””

    Human Resources is administering a survey to determine why UA employees leave their jobs, a device Cripps finds ironic in light of how many people are indeed being fired.

    “”It just doesn’t make sense to let these employees go, especially with the high cost to bring in new people,”” she said.

    Porter rejects Cripps’ belief that employee layoffs are on the rise, adding that there is no relation between the number of layoffs and the survey. She said the survey is part of an ongoing Human Resources process necessary to determine what programs may be needed in the future to optimize staff retention.

    As the survey also asks why employees stay at their jobs, to focus on the opposite situation falsely suggests that UA employees are leaving their jobs in large numbers, she said.

    “”This is not unusual, and there is no triggering event,”” Porter said. “”We are just seeing why people stay and leave.””

    The confusion circling the workplace environment has taken its toll on UA staff, lowering morale and creating an insecure atmosphere, Cripps said.

    “”There’s an awareness, but no one’s doing anything about it,”” she said.

    After receiving her notice, Cripps said the UA’s apathetic attitude bothered her most, she said.

    “”The frustration comes from not seeing the university upset about this,”” she said. “”Right now, it doesn’t seem like the university wants its employees to stay.””

    While she admits that losing her job has left her personally upset, Cripps said she is not speaking out for selfish reasons. Rather, she only wants to raise awareness for the sake of her soon-to-be former coworkers, she said.

    “”I’m not looking for loyalty. I’m not looking for guarantees,”” she said. “”I just want things to be right.””

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