After multiple rounds of layoffs and years of losses, UNC Printing Services will shut down this summer, laying off its remaining 12 employees.
Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services, said the decision, which was made weeks ago but announced to employees Monday, was expected and based on a lack of demand for the product.
But some of the department’s employees said they were surprised by the decision and that losses stemmed from University mismanagement.
For the last 40 years, Printing Services has printed bulk documents for departments on campus, such as newsletters and fundraising letters. The department relies on its own sales for funding.
Elfland said the department’s services will now be outsourced, and she hopes to find a new company by August. She met with the 12 remaining employees on Monday to announce the decision.
“Personally, I was not expecting it,” said Glenn Haugh, design and prepress supervisor. Others expressed the same sentiment.
“We had no foreknowledge of what was going to happen,” said Jim White, a print and document services technician.
Elfland cited “market forces” as the reason for the change. She said business has been declining for years as more departments publish online and buy their own efficient printers.
“Nationally, printing is declining; the volume of work has dropped,” she said.
But employees said the loss in volume was not the sole reason the department lost money.
“The people in charge have trouble running a print shop because they don’t know how,” Haugh said.
Susan Anderson, director of Printing Services, referred inquiries to Elfland.
White said there were ways to save Printing Services that were not explored. In the 1990s, he said, UNC used the “right of refusal,” by which staff and faculty using state money had to first turn to Printing Services for jobs before going to outside vendors.
“If departments still had to go through us, I think we would get more business,” White said.
Elfland said that while employees had brought up the idea, administrators didn’t like it.
“We do not create restrictive processes that limit departments,” she said.
Employees also complained that they gave input to management that was then ignored.
Elfland said the department listened to employee input but ultimately disagreed with suggestions.
The 12 employees’ jobs will be eliminated during the summer while UNC transitions to an outside company, Elfland said.
The employees will receive severance packages and help finding jobs, which is standard procedure.
White insisted that the department shouldn’t have to shut down.
“With some changes, without a doubt we would have been saved.”
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