Clackamas Community College lays off two dozen employees

Classified lay-off/reduction procedures.  Photo provided by Jonathan Villagomez.

Story by Laura Canida

An email from Clackamas Community College President Tim Cook notified staff on May 15 that at least two dozen college employees will lose their jobs; while it’s possible that some employees will be retained, many won’t.

Today we started notifying 24 full-time and 1 part-time classified staff of layoffs or reduction in standard scheduled hours,” Cook wrote in the Friday morning email. “Clackamas Community College is facing substantial financial challenges, which are being escalated by COVID-19. With the complete impact and duration of the coronavirus pandemic still unknown, we are taking some immediate actions to help curb the long-term impact.” 

According to Cook, CCC personnel make up 84% of the college’s budget.  

“With the need to work remotely and the 31% decline in enrollment, our ability to maintain the current employee level is not sustainable,” the email read.

Lori Hall, executive director of College Relations and Marketing, said on Monday:
“The college’s Executive Team is working on furlough plan for all administrators that will be shared this week.

There are some full-time faculty and administrative positions that are currently open that will not be filled. All administrator positions are being evaluated for further reductions.”

At a college-wide virtual College Council meeting on Friday, some staff voiced their displeasure with the college for laying off people who are among the lowest paid at the college and work directly with students; administrative secretaries and financial aid workers are among those affected.

Classified staff are the employees who do everything from advising students, maintaining computer systems, processing admissions and custodial work  — pretty much every college job that is not teaching or administration.

Others complained that employees who were losing their jobs were notified of layoffs via an all-staff email before being able to talk to their supervisors about how their jobs would be impacted.

Alissa Mahar, Vice President of College Services, said during the meeting that she wasn’t sure what the cost savings would be for the loss of jobs, but estimated it could be around $2 million. 

“That’s a really kind of rough number,” Mahar said. “It really depends on the positions . . . I don’t know if Jeff [Shaffer] has something more, but it definitely helps mitigate not only the current budget, but actually, doesn’t mitigate the current budget because nothing would be effective until after July at the earliest. But it does impact the forecast going forward.”

In March, the college cut hundreds of courses, moved almost all classes online and furloughed 51 part-time classified employees, citing lack of work as the reason. Administration said it is also exploring furlough days for all full-time staff, including administration furloughs and reductions for the next school year.

Some of the classified staff whose jobs were eliminated may be able to bump another less-senior employee and take their jobs. According to the Classified Association’s bargaining agreement, “Employees have the right to exercise their bumping rights, based on seniority provision and minimum qualifications.” 

In an email to classified staff on May 14, Matthew Larkin, a technician in information technology at the college and the co-chair of the Association of Classified Employees, addressed the talks of layoffs and went over how the layoff process should happen. 

“With the current budget situation we all know that layoffs have to occur. Please know this is out of Union hands and these decisions are made by management. These decisions were very hard to make and Management thoroughly thought out these layoffs,”  Larkin wrote.