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Western Michigan University laying off 240 employees because of budget shortfall

Western Michigan University laying off 240 employees because of budget shortfall. (WWMT/File)
Western Michigan University laying off 240 employees because of budget shortfall. (WWMT/File)
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Western Michigan University said they would be laying off 240 employees.

Western Michigan University President Edward Montgomery sent a letter April 30, 2020, that said they met with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union to notify them of the layoff.

“We do not know if or when these employees may be recalled to come back to work,” Montgomery said in the letter. “It will depend on the ongoing restrictions that limit the impacted services and our overall budget situation. However, it is unlikely that this portion of our workforce will return to the current level in the near future.”

Montgomery said in the letter Western Michigan University has lost $45 million and are expecting another loss of between $45 million and $85 million during the 2020-2021 year.

He also said they closed fitness centers, the performance venue and conference facilities, because most of the facilities are funded with student fees. They are not in use and he said Western Michigan University cannot afford to pay the employees of those services.

"These employees have served our students and institution well, allowing us to advance the common good. We understand the weight of these unavoidable decisions that none of us ever wanted to make. We are sharing this information with you because it affects the entire campus community," Montgomery said in the letter.

Montgomery also said all non-union staff eligible for benefits would have a 2.25% pay reduction starting July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021. The university would also be meeting with the unions for talks in the future.

“This pandemic has impacted all of us at every level. WMU’s tough decision was not an easy one particularly as they look to restructure and know they need their entire team to move forward in their future because it is 'our’s' too." U.S. Rep. Fred Upton said.

The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees voted April 23 to hold off raising tuition and housing fees for students because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montgomery said on April 24 the university was working to find ways to save money because of the revenue loss.

The president, vice presidents, general counsel, chief of staff and director of intercollegiate athletics had taken a 10% pay cut.

Associate and assistant vice presidents, associate provosts and vice provosts, and deans had taken a 5% pay cut.

Montgomery also announced in his letter the university would stop hiring though the end of the spring semester, freeze or cancel panned construction projects, ban travel and encourage suspending discretionary spending.

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“Even with these measures, the magnitude of the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis is such that few areas will be left untouched as some very difficult, unavoidable decisions are made,” Montgomery said in the letter.

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