Budget cuts have eliminated many non-faculty, or professional positions, and are forcing many people to relocate within the university. Although there are policies in place to protect employees’ jobs, some people are still having trouble with the reassignments.
“It’s kind of upsetting because you become attached to the department that you are at,” said Jill Litwiller, secretary human development and family studies. “You know the responsibilities and you know what you’re doing. You wouldn’t choose to leave.”
When a position is eliminated within a department, whoever occupied the position is allowed to relocate to a similar position within the university. The relocated employee will have to “bump” another employee from their position based on their seniority and therefore will force them to find another position and repeat the process or be laid off.
Employees are protected by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and therefore, have some insulation from being laid off. The AFSCME contract includes provisions for faculty members whose positions have been removed to relocate to another position provided it is within the same class title.
A class is a job title that includes positions like secretaries, clerks and assistants. However, jobs performed by secretaries and clerks can vary widely between departments and often take long periods of time to train for. Therefore, even if one employee gets moved to another position of the same title, they may not be prepared to adequately perform the required duties.
“It’s sad because there are so many people that know that position and know the responsibilities,” Litwiller said. “They’re not all the same. People have been trained for the position, and then they get bumped to a position that they don’t have any experience in.”
However, administrators at Iowa State are also in a tough spot because although they try to make sure everyone is placed in a good position, not everyone can be accommodated.
“It may not be the perfect match, but it’s designed to affect as few people as possible,” said Andy Bock, president of AFSCME Local 96. “It’s designed to fulfill the needs of the institution and the needs of the employee.”
Employees who have to be bumped also have the choice of being voluntarily laid off or changing their title, which would also limit their rights as employees and could reduce their pay.
“If an employee is unhappy about being bumped, it’s certainly understandable,” Bock said. “Through the contact they are given certain opportunities they would not have been given if they were not.”