UC San Diego Housing Dining Hospitality temporarily laid-off staff members on Monday, June 15 after the department saw major reductions in undergraduate housing and Summer Session occupancy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The approximately 200 laid-off employees will not receive pay through the summer but will likely return to work at the beginning of September in time for Fall Quarter.
The workers will have two weeks of full salary pay until the end of June in accordance with the University of California’s pay continuity program. Employees will also still have access to their UC-provided health benefits and support from the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program throughout the summer.
“HDH implemented numerous cost-saving measures, including hiring freezes and project deferments, but due to a substantial decrease in summer duties, HDH made the difficult decision to place some of their staff members on temporary layoff,” Associate Communications Director Leslie Sepuka said to The UCSD Guardian in an email. “We understand the pain and uncertainty this will cause… however, we must acknowledge and respond to the challenges our campus is facing as a result of the pandemic.”
For HDH employees like Joe Fejeran, the news of the layoff came as a shock, even though it has been a real possibility since the rise of the pandemic. Workers are now left to find new ways to earn an income through the summer to support themselves and their families.
“My immediate concern is everything to do with personal finances and weighing the options of picking up temporary work during this time,” Fejeran told The UCSD Guardian. “I’m choosing to remain positive though because it is a temporary layoff. In the meantime, there will be at least a month and a half where I won’t see a paycheck.”
Many have also taken to social media to publicize the lay-off and to garner financial support for the affected employees. A GoFundMe page has been created to support them by raising money through the website, which will then be sent to Teamster and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees unions to be processed and sent directly to the workers. The funds will be divided evenly among the workers after fees are paid to GoFundMe.
“The description says that Latinx folks predominantly make up the demographic of people who are laid-off,” Fejeran said. “When it comes down to this and living in the time of COVID, which disproportionately affects [African and Latinx American] communities, I think about this particular fundraiser as a way for us to provide mutual aid.”
In 2019, Hispanic or Latinos make up 24 percent of the professional and support staff workforce at UCSD. Although some employees are laid off for the summer, the University expects to reinstate all of them in September.
The UCSD Guardian has reached out to other affected employees for comment, but they have not responded back.
The article was edited on June 23, 2020 at 6:45 PM to reflect a change in the way money would be distributed through the GoFundMe campaign.