Campus employees face hardships during current COVID-19 pandemic

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, not only has the health and safety of the campus community been put to the test, but so has the financial stability of its employees. In response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Safe at Home” order enacted on March 19, employees of “nonessential” businesses have faced the consequences this abruptly brought upon them. 

According to a press release sent March 21 to Cal Poly Pomona faculty and staff by Danielle Manning, vice president of administration, finance and strategic development and CFO, up to 128 hours of paid administrative leave have been approved for employees by the California State University (CSU) office of the Chancellor. This applies to “health benefits-eligible employees, Unit 11 employees (academic student employees) and non-represented student assistants who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.” This policy will be in effect from March 23-Dec. 31.  

Foundation employee numbers are attributed to Alex Hernandez, assistant director of marketing for CPP Foundation Services. (Eduardo Rangel | The Poly Post)

The conditions to this policy are as follows: All hours must be used before Dec. 31, otherwise they will expire. The hours may be used at any time during the designated period, including before or after the use of any other paid leave, and the number of hours of paid leave for employees who work less than full-time will be distributed in accordance to “the percent of appointment.” This does not apply to “faculty, staff, or students age 65 or older or medically compromised.”

Nor does it apply to auxiliary staff not employed by the state such as Foundation Services and Associated Students, Inc., as decisions regarding pay and hours will be made internally.

According to the CPP employment website, the campus employs a total of 1,100 faculty members. Assistant Director of Marketing for CPP Foundation Services Alex Hernandez stated that under the organization there are 200 full-time, 300 part-time and 400 student employees. However, due to critical circumstances resulting from the changes in our community, this number is rapidly changing. 

“Almost 200 of our student workers have already decided to move back home or opted not to be on campus once classes transitioned to virtual instruction,” Hernandez said. “That number is growing every day.” 

The core services still scheduled to continue under Foundation Services are Centerpointe Dining Commons, the Bronco Bookstore and the Village Student Housing. However, the dining services are only available for takeout. 

Yet, many student employees under Foundation Services were not given the option to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they were temporarily relieved. 

Gabriela Osteaga, a fourth-year economics student, is an employee of Lollicup on campus and is among the students who were temporarily relieved. Osteaga relies on her income from her job on campus, and, like many other students, is worried about what the future may look like for her. 

“Personally, I feel relieved that the school is taking into consideration our safety and well-being,” Osteaga said. “However, as I do rely financially on the hours I work at school for, it’s kind of a stressful time having to supplement that income from somewhere else.” 

“It would’ve been nice if the school could’ve set up a plan for all employee workers to get paid for the hours scheduled, but it’s understandable that they didn’t plan for a situation like this,” Osteaga said. 

Osteaga’s circumstances are an example, however, not limited to Lollicup. Several Foundation Services were also shut down during this time until further notice, and students were left without a steady income. 

For other part-time student employees on campus, they were given the opportunity to work but are now facing a shortage of hours compared to what they were used to working. The library, the Bronco Bookstore and Innovation Brew Works are a few examples of businesses that remain open with reduced hours. Professors and lecturers are still working; however, all classes and work are being done online. 

In spite of the fact that many people are struggling during these unprecedented times, there are also organizations on campus accommodating their employees to the best of their abilities.

According to Paul Hottinger, the engineering librarian, he feels that he has been accommodated very well. 

“Our library administration was very supportive of faculty/staff that have children in school districts that were closed for a specific amount of time,” Hottinger said. “We were given immediate authorization to work off site. This was a tremendous relief.” 

According to a confirmed source who will remain anonymous for job security reasons, the Bronco Recreation and Intramural Complex (BRIC) is closed on-site, although is also offering remote work or unpaid leave for its employees. 

All campus jobs are projected to remain in compliance with the CSU Office of the Chancellor.

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