The University of Minnesota is again trying to squeeze its workers before it sacrifices any central administration and non-academic spending. The Office of Human Resources has drafted a policy that would reduce the termination notice for long-serving yearly contract workers from a year to six months.
This is unfair to long-term employees who are guaranteed a year of notice before termination after 11 years of service to the University. At the very least, taking half of their notice away is ungrateful.
Furthermore, academic job searches are difficult and time-consuming, especially in this economic climate. Asking a terminated employee to put one together and find new employment so quickly is asking them to do the impossible, causing job performance during their final six months to suffer.
This policy may also make the University less competitive. If potential employees see the University treating its workers this way, they are less likely to pursue employment here. The University could miss out on some of the best applicants.
The year of notice does need reform, but a different kind. The University regularly gives yearly-contract renewal notices to an employee while at the same time handing him or her a one-year notice of termination, whether the University has actually decided to fire him or her. That way the University can decide whether to hire or fire the employee at a later time and circumvent the notice process. This practice must stop.
The University should start treating its workers as if they were valuable members of the University community rather than pawns to be leveraged in a budget-balancing game by administrators whose own compensation is not in play as well.