Nine employees have been laid off from the Northern New Mexico College: four from the bookstore, three from the cafeteria; one from the library and one from security.
The layoffs follow a special session of the New Mexico Legislature to deal with the pandemic and the state government’s budget, which impacts the College.
Due to pandemic, the College faces a fairly significant $853,400 budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2021, which resulted in the layoffs of the employees.
College President Rick Bailey said they had two choices to fill the remaining budget gap. One option was to lay off nine workers. The other was to push to implement an across-the-bard salary cut for everybody.
Ultimately, he said he made the decision for reduction-in-force for two reasons: the state has an anti-donation clause so College officials cannot use tax revenue to pay for services not rendered or to pay for items not delivered. Secondly, knowing that classes will be online in the Fall there are some things officials are not going to do.
From the start of the crisis, he said he kept everyone on the payroll. For that reason he said he didn’t want to add to everyone’s burden.
“We paid people for the last three-and-a-half months,” Bailey said. “Some of whom have worked 40 hours a week or more. Others just haven’t.”
The second part of the reason, he said, was that it was not fair to ask everyone to accept a salary cut in order to pay people to continue not to work.
He said he struggled and it was a very difficult decision to make, about which he spent a lot of time and deliberation.
“We sent a formal notice to our union counterparts,” Bailey said.
The College will work with the union, which represents full-time faculty, all non-management staff, and the adjunct faculty under a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
If these positions open up within the next year, those people will have an opportunity to return to the college, said Tim Crone, director of the union.
“We are going to do everything we can to help these employees,” Crone said,
The Union and the Board have 21 days to figure out the next steps for the nine employees with the collective bargaining agreement.
“This is the most difficult decision I’ve had to make as president,” Bailey said. “This is a difficult time for the College but we will overcome this; we will get through this together. The College’s best days (are) ahead of us.”
He said hopefully within a year, once they have tackled the pandemic, they will get there.
With the reduction-in-force in place, he said this fall they are not going to operate the bookstore or the cafeteria since they could not justify continuing to pay people in positions that were not going to be open in the College.
He said it was the best thing for the college and the students in terms of moving forward.