CPP organizations halt further furloughs and layoffs for this fiscal year

Cal Poly Pomona’s Foundation and ASI reported 1,022 layoffs, both temporary and permanent, for last fiscal year. Currently, these organizations are reporting no further layoffs or furloughs of their employees, but rather are starting to employ them back.

Despite having a $20 million budget gap in place for this fiscal year, Cal Poly Pomona found ways to offset this reduction by using reserve funds and other cost-cutting methods, further protecting the university from layoffs, according to Joseph Simoneschi, associate vice president of Finance and Administrative Services.

(Courtesy of Joseph Simoneschi)

The state’s Employment Development Department recently released public records of WARN notices, notices given to employees facing furlough or layoffs, for the time period of July 2019 through June 2020.

Among these, ASI listed 243 as temporary student-employee cuts and the CPP Foundation reported 779 permanent layoffs.

For CPP Foundation layoffs, roughly 585 student positions, 151 part-time positions and 43 full-time positions were affected in the June layoffs. The CPP Foundation is not state funded and runs off of a revenue and expense model. When the pandemic struck and students were no longer on campus, that’s when they were forced to close over 20 stores, according to CPP Foundation Executive Director and CEO Jared Ceja.

Ceja worked closely with the board of the CPP Foundation to come up with incentives such as early retirement to avoid layoffs and furloughs.

“We didn’t have work for many of these employees to do,” Ceja said. “I had to make the final decision for the layoffs of employees and furloughs for the enterprise and administration.”

Ceja said that since the initial layoffs, the foundation has made great strides to save cash flow and decrease expenses. This includes cutting back on utilities such as air conditioning, pay cuts on the administrative side, halting capital project investments like redesigning dining areas, and renegotiating and reevaluating contracts with partners.

These efforts have worked in the foundation’s favor as they have reemployed 24 students and part-time employees within the Bronco Bookstore and Dining services were brought as opportunities have resurfaced, according to Ceja. He added that some roles were brought back temporarily to support the start of the fall semester when course material was most needed.

The economic downturn caused by the pandemic also led to the furlough of 243 student employees from ASI, according to ASI Director of Human Resources Danisha Lawrence. However, employment is looking up for the organization as positions within departments, like Kids University, continue to reopen virtually.

“We are now rehiring some of our qualified furloughed student employees for open positions,”
said Lawrence.

Liz Roosa Millar, executive director of ASI, said they have no immediate plans to lay off or
furlough any additional employees at this time.

From a university standpoint, the budget gap that occurred due to decreased state funding amid
the COVID-19 pandemic is currently being offset by the university’s use of its economic
uncertainty reserve; a total of $3.3 million has been used up from those savings, according to the
annual budget meeting on Oct. 29.

The use of these reserve funds, alongside the suspension of one-time allocated funds for certain
expenses like temporary projects or temporary employment and utilities on campus have helped
close the budget gap, according to Simoneschi. Permanent staffing remains protected from
layoffs because of these proactive measures, Simoneschi added.

“When it comes to (permanent) employment, staffing for CPP is on base dollars — the dollars
that are coming in from the state,” Simoneschi said. “This allows us to protect the workforce as
much as possible.”

When speaking about the voluntary Early Exit Program as it pertains to the budget gap,
Simoneschi said that the program was not designed to create more savings for this fiscal year,
but it was a measure taken to allow adaptability for next year should another base budget
reduction occur.

As far as the next fiscal year is concerned, the final budget will not be available until early June,
according to Simoneschi. A budget proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom is planned for January
and will serve as an indicator for what the California State University system will be allocated.
From there, the university will be reassessing reductions on campus to fit the budget whether it is
an increase, decrease or remains steady.

Currently, the university is planning ahead for a variety of scenarios to see where they can cut
back on utilities and use available resources should they need to, according to Nicole Hawkes,
chief of staff for the Office of the President.

“We are doing everything we can to not have to move to involuntary personnel actions, including
layoffs,” Hawkes said. “That is the driving force for us in making all these choices and taking all
these steps.”

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