- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign is planning layoffs as a result of the state financial crisis, according to an email from a school administrator, marking the first time the university system’s flagship campus has turned to job cuts amid the budget stalemate.

The hiring of civil-service workers, such as child care and clerical employees, was frozen on Monday, and departments were told to decide how many such employees to cut due to a lack of funding by the state, Associate Provost for Human Resources Elyne Cole said in an email sent to employees Monday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the email from the union representing the workers.

The University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus and the other eight public universities in Illinois have not received any state funds since the fiscal year began last July, because of the budget standoff between Democratic lawmakers and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Cole did not respond to a request for comment. But in the email, Cole said the university continues to plan for life without state funding and the possibility that could continue into to next fiscal year.

“Unfortunately, for some administrative and academic units, we know that such planning will include the elimination of some positions, including those held by Civil Service employees that have an option to exercise seniority or employment rights, thereby bumping other Civil Service employees from their positions, she wrote setting a May 16 date for departments to submit lists of employees who would lose jobs. Those job cuts would take effect Aug. 27.

Ann Zettervall is president of the union that represents 1,300 of the school’s civil service workers, a group of primarily clerical, child-development and Extension Service employees, who work with farmers, children and others around the state. She said the layoffs would be the first to come as a result of budget crisis.

Zettervall said she has asked the university for more details including potential numbers of employees affected, but said she has not received answers.

“We are preparing for a large number of layoffs and we’re talking to all of the people covered by our collective bargaining agreement,” she said Wednesday. “I sent an email out to them last night.”

“A lot of our members, they don’t make a lot of money,” she added. “Some make as little as $10.18 an hour.”

Jobs cuts are also possible among academic professionals - a group that includes many salaried employees who serve as directors or coordinators of various campus programs, but not faculty, campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

While the layoffs would be the first at the state’s largest university, smaller state schools such as Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois have already cut jobs as they struggle to get by without state funding. And Chicago State University has said it will run out of money at the end of this month and has sent notices of possible layoffs to its entire staff.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched at the Capitol in Springfield on Wednesday over the effects that the budget standoff is having on both higher and primary education in Illinois.

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