April 21, 2019

Employees feel impact of mandatory furlough day

Staff members affected by the mandatory furlough will have reduced pay for the next eight weeks.

All U.S. Webster University administrators and staff took a mandatory furlough day on March 15. Those affected by the furlough will receive about eight hours in reduced pay over the next eight weeks.

The furlough impacted about 600 full-time Webster administrators and staff across the U.S.

Daniel von Seckendorff has worked in Webster’s media center since 2016 as a student and then a full-time media center assistant. Von Seckendorff said he cannot afford Webster’s cost saving measures.

Business returned to normal the week of March 17 at the Office of the School of Communications.

“It depends on how you live,” von Seckendorff said. “For me, it’s going to hurt a little bit.”

Von Seckendorff said he tries to make ends meet through jobs other than the media center, such as freelance videography. He added that other media center employees have to get creative when it comes to income as well.

Administrators and staff will receive a pay reduction, slightly less than two hours worth of pay, over four different pay periods. The effects of the furlough will stretch for two months.

Webster University’s president and provost declined to comment on the furlough.

Earlier this year, Director of Public Relations Patrick Giblin told The Journal the university’s operating expenses decreased by $7.1 million from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2018. Giblin did not say how much money the university will save from the furlough.

Webster’s finances saw a downward trend in past years. Webster had an operating deficit of $14 million for fiscal year 2017 according to Webster’s cash flow statements. Fiscal year 2018 saw an $18.7 million operating deficit, the worst to date.

Anne Geraghty-Rathert, professor of legal studies at Webster, said the furlough concerned her when she first heard about it. The fact that the furlough affected staff and not faculty, Geraghty-Rathert said, made her even more concerned.

“It obviously impacts some people financially more strongly than others,” Geraghty-Rathert said. “Single parents and people lower on the pay scale, for instance.”

Geraghty-Rathert sent a request to faculty members for $25 Schnucks gift cards for Webster staff members in an effort to provide them with some of the money they lost from the furlough.

The media center posted this sign on their door to warn customers of their closing for the furlough day.

Geraghty-Rathert said she wanted to let the staff know the faculty care about them. She gave the lowest-paid workers gift cards first, she said.

“While I realize that $25 gift cards to Schnucks are not much,” Geraghty-Rathert said, “I hope that staff understand that we do care about them.”

Geraghty-Rathert said she thought a Schnucks gift card would fit well with one right down the street from Webster.

Geraghty-Rathert said faculty members donated more than 80 gift cards by the furlough day. She said more contributions will follow and be distributed as they come in. Not all staff received a gift card, she said, but it was the best the faculty could do.

Five campus offices had limited operations on March 15. Academic affairs, enrollment management, finance and administration, information technology and student affairs ran with minimal staffing. Public safety operated as normal.

Some administrators and staff came to work on March 15. Those employees will have their furlough day on a different date.

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