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The Daily Tar Heel

11 Positions to Be Cut Due to Tight Budget

But officials say the reallocation of faculty salaries is not a feasible option and staff layoffs might continue.

John Heuer, chairman of the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum, said 11 staff members have been notified that their positions will be eliminated at the end of the year because of a 2.7 percent cut Governor Mike Easley has made to the University system's operating budget.

Heuer said the eliminated positions are in the Division of Facilities Services and Academic Technology & Networks.

He added that because University administrators are placing an increased focus on protecting faculty salaries, the elimination of positions among the 10,000-member UNC-CH staff is unavoidable and could continue.

"One of our concerns is that our state's budget cuts aren't over," Heuer said. "We're worried that more cuts will be coming in the spring."

Sue Estroff, chairwoman of the Faculty Council, said there is widespread support among faculty members to give up a $625 across-the-board pay raise to save endangered staff positions. Nearly all state employees received the raise this year.

"The quality of the work we do as teachers and researchers is hugely dependent on the work of our staff members," Estroff said. "We respect them and don't want to see them take a disproportionate share of the cuts."

But Provost Robert Shelton said because the salary increases come from state budget appropriations, the money would be returned to the state if it was forfeited and would not go directly to staff pay.

Shelton said representatives from the UNC-system Office of the President discussed the issue with the state budget committee and decided that forfeiting faculty pay increases was not a feasible option to retain staff positions.

Laurie Charest, associate vice chancellor for human resources, said employees who have their positions cut can utilize job counseling services in her department and might also be eligible for severance packages depending on their positions and length of service.

Charest said a number of positions at UNC-CH and other universities are vacant and can be filled by laid-off employees with skills suited to the positions. "We still have a large number of vacated positions, and a number of positions open up each year," Charest said. "There are a number of spots open for people looking for them."

Charest said each department of UNC-CH employees had its budget reduced but that not every department was able to accommodate this cut without eliminating certain staff positions. "Every department had their budget targeted," she said. "They each had to make hard decisions about how to deal with that cut."

Heuer said the employee forum will try to prevent the elimination of more staff positions by looking into the possibility of reducing work hours to 32 hours a week. He also said the forum will continue to explore the viability of using forfeited faculty salary increases to fund employee salaries.

"Our role is to look into every possible avenue to protect our staff, and we have to find out whether it would be permissible to accept voluntary faculty pay cuts," Heuer said. "We may not have the legislative authority to do this now, but this is something we should look at for the future."

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