SBCC community ‘disregarded and alarmed’ after three staff layoffs

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Ryan P. Cruz, Editor-In-Chief

The Board of Trustees received a barrage of criticism during the public comment portion of its March 11 meeting over the decision to lay off three classified staff in a closed session on Feb. 25.

Over a dozen staff, faculty and current and former City College employees criticized the administration and board for approving the layoffs without input from faculty or representatives from the California School Employee Association (CSEA).

The closed-session vote to layoff three positions—a warehouse assistant, an international outreach and admissions tech and an administrative assistant—was passed 5-2, with trustees Jonathan Abboud and Anna Everett voting against the measure, and trustees Marsha Croninger, Veronica Gallardo, Peter Haslund, Kate Parker and Robert Miller approving the action.

Student Success Coordinator Elizabeth Stein, who has worked at City College for nearly 18 years, said the decision adds to an “already substantially low morale” and makes it hard for staff to have confidence in leadership.

“When decisions are made by one person—or a small group of people who don’t have on-the-ground experience—the best decision can’t be made cause the people most affected weren’t allowed to be at the table,” Stein said.

She said the move made her feel “under-valued, disregarded and alarmed” as an employee of City College.

“We are not positions,” Stein said. “We are people.”

Jesse Felix, an administrative assistant in the purchasing department, read a statement signed by members of the CSEA executive board, Classified Consultation Group and CSEA political action committee.

Felix said the decision “erodes any remaining trust and confidence” in leadership and goes against the school’s mission of “fostering an equitable, inclusive, respectful, participatory and supportive community,” while also sending a distressing message to the community.

“The message was received loud and clear,” Felix said. “City College does not value its essential workers.”

Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami addressed the public comments during his president’s report, and said his job comes with having to make difficult decisions.

“If you want a balanced budget it is going to affect people,” Goswami said.

He said that each worker laid off at the Feb. 25 meeting would be reassigned to “equivalent positions somewhere in the district,” and there would not be any more layoffs in 2021.

“I can guarantee with almost 99% certainty that all three of the workers will be placed in positions within the district,” said Goswami, before thanking all those who spoke during public comment.

“People spoke from their hearts,” he said.

He wants to create an environment where everybody feels comfortable being honest to the board, he said.

“We’re there to create an environment where people can speak,” Goswami said. “They have spoken, and I have listened to them.”

Check back with The Channels for more news regarding layoffs at City College.