U of W seeks employee concessions
University dealing with budget crunch
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/04/2009 (5174 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The University of Winnipeg is asking its employees for millions of dollars in voluntary concessions to make up a budget shortfall, U of W president Lloyd Axworthy said Wednesday.
“I prefer to do it with consent,” Axworthy said in an interview. “I’m required to present a balanced budget to the board.”
He said he wants to avoid layoffs.
“I would be very loathe to do that. At a time when the economy is in trouble, that just exacerbates it.”
Axworthy said he has not put specific proposals to university employees, nor would he discuss specific options.
Management has already given up three to 10 per cent — some by reducing pay, others by donating to scholarship funds or passing up wage increases or increments.
“We haven’t had any formal proposals to the bargaining units. It’s a community-wide, institutional interest,” said Axworthy, who’s taken a 10 per cent pay cut. U of W could be looking for as much as $7 million on a $100-million budget for the 2009-2010 school year, but that’s still uncertain, he said.
The market crash has left the university’s endowment funds a little over $1 million short to meet its scholarship and bursary promises.
Provincial grant increases and the possibility of the lifting of the tuition freeze adding $150 to a full-time student’s fees could relieve the pressure on the school’s operating costs.
But the greatest problem, by far, is an adverse court ruling on the withdrawal of surplus pension funds back in 2001. It may be necessary to find $6 million immediately to pay into the pension fund, he said.
But U of W may also be able to borrow that money and repay the loan’s principal and interest over time, reducing how much it needs from employees now, Axworthy said.
He would not speculate how much U of W is asking from a typical professor.
“We’ve got a number of ways. I don’t want to pick out any one of those options,” Axworthy said.
He must take a balanced budget to the board of regents by early June, Axworthy said.
The union representing professors refused to comment.
“I really won’t have anything to say about that,” said Prof. Kristine Hansen, president of the U of W Faculty Association.