College brings back some employees, offers retirement package to staff

by Andrew Sasser | 7/10/20 2:25am

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by Arya Kadakia / The Dartmouth Staff

As the College continues to follow its reopening plan, it has increased the presence for some employees on campus, while also offering early retirement packages.

Dartmouth will continue to pay all regular, non-temporary staff base pay through July 31, an extension from the original deadline of June 30. Temporary workers will be paid based on hours worked. 

President of the Local 560 Branch of the Service Employees International Union Chris Peck said that after a slow period of reopening, most staff members in the union have returned to working on campus. Currently SEIU has approximately 490 members who are employed by the College, 70 of whom work for the Hanover Inn, according to Peck. He added that no SEIU employees have been furloughed.

Peck said that he does not anticipate significant furloughs or layoffs for SEIU members due to the fact that students will be using “the same spaces” when they return to campus. He added that he was concerned about Dartmouth Dining Services staff due to there being fewer students to feed, but added that excess staff may be “reassigned” to other duties.

“As far as I see it, there may not be enough staff for the fall,” Peck said. “Given the new CDC guidelines recommending public areas be disinfected every 2 hours, I’m not too worried about furloughs.”

Dartmouth Dining Services director Jon Plodzik wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth that it is still “premature” to speculate on staffing assignments for the fall as the situation could change “significantly” between now and September. 

Due to the return of employees to campus, the arrangement to pay those who work on campus “time and a half,” or 1.5 times their usual wage, has been discontinued, according to associate vice president for facilities operations management Frank Roberts. 

“The custodial staff and most FO&M employees are scheduled to work on campus,” Roberts said. “However, we have some people in project management continuing to work remotely, and those employees are still being paid their full salary.”

Roberts also said that employees who are unable to work remotely and choose not to return to campus will be paid through accumulated vacation or personal time. He added that if an employee ran out of accumulated personal time, they would be paid through the end of the month.

Additionally, the College is starting to offer a “one-time retirement incentive option” for some employees, College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement. 

According to an email sent to campus employees on July 1 by Provost Joseph Helble, employees who have served the College for at least 10 years and who have a combined age and years of service of at least 75 will be eligible to receive these benefits. Employees who qualify will be paid six months’ pay if they retire before September 30 this year.

Lawrence wrote that approximately 550 employees, or 18 percent of Dartmouth employees, are eligible to receive this package. She also said that the College will not be making any decisions about “next steps” until the College determines the popularity of the program.

Peck said that he was aware of three SEIU members who are considering taking the package. He added that all three employees were already prepared to retire.

“It’s just a bonus for them to get a few more weeks’ pay,” Peck said.