The union representing clerical workers at the University of Minnesota is protesting a recent wave of layoffs.
Melanie Steinman, chief steward of AFSCME local 3800, used last week's public forum on the U's proposed operating budget to criticize not only the fact that 25 employees were cut from the U's Office of Information Technology -- but the "appalling manner in which these layoffs were carried out."
The employees "were given their layoff notices and told to leave on the spot," she said. "These employees were not thanked for their service. Instead, many were escorted out of the building as plain-clothed police observed."
She claimed that they were "shamed and treated like criminals."
The university has a different version of events. In a statement, passed along by spokesman Chuck Tombarge, officials said that "this unfortunate situation was handled with sensitivity, consistency among employees and compassion."
Employees "met with their manager and a representative from Human Resources, who sincerely thanked them for their service and assured them that the layoff was not a result of their performance," the statement said.
Both sides agree that 25 employees were dismissed from the department. The union says that 14 were in the clerical and technical workers' unions. The U says that the group included "a senior manager."
The union will protest the layoffs during a news conference Friday morning. The Board of Regents will vote on the 2014 operating budget during a meeting later that day.
In a press release about the protest, Cherrene Horazuk, president of AFSCME local 3800 said: “It’s time to stop chopping from the bottom and start chopping from the top."
The group is calling for a "reevaluation" of the layoffs. The university has said that the layoffs were "in direct response to information technology industry changes."