Iowa State University cuts another seven ITS employees

This 'completes the reorganization'

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AMES — As part of a reorganization of Iowa State University’s information technology services unit, another seven employees this week are being notified their positions are being eliminated, ISU spokesman John McCarroll confirmed for The Gazette.

Those cuts bring the total eliminated positions to 30 and “completes the reorganization,” which also created eight new jobs, McCarroll said. All seven employees affected by this week’s announcement are “merit” workers represented by a union.

Of the 23 positions cut in May, 12 were union jobs and 11 were considered “professional and scientific” positions not covered by the union contract but by ISU policy requiring 90 days notice in cases of position elimination.

Because industry best practice advises removing cut IT workers’ system access, most of those P & S employees have been staying home on a paid nonworking status since being notified. Based on the 90-day notice period, they have until Aug. 23 to find another position on campus.

“If they don’t apply for and get hired for other jobs, they are laid off,” McCarroll has said.

Cutting merit employees is more complicated, as the union contract outlines a “bumping process” that allows eliminated workers with more seniority to bump newer workers out of their jobs. Those who are bumped can potentially bump others or look for open positions elsewhere on campus.

And that takes time. While waiting, 11 of the initial 12 eliminated merit employees spent weeks reporting to a room on campus they dubbed “Gitmo Iowa State.” Those employees in July were given an additional option of staying home on paid nonworking status after The Gazette reported their concerns — and they all took it.

Iowa State’s ITS unit employs about 175 people.

Jim Kurtenbach — named interim chief information officer in January 2015 and appointed permanently in July without a formal search — initiated the reorganization.

In a May email to ITS employees announcing the cuts, he said, “This is the first time in over 10 years — since the merger that formed ITS — that we have stepped back to review our business processes, to examine how technology has affected our workload and workforce needs to identify redundancies.”

Through July 1 — covering 27 work days in May and June — ISU had paid $126,234 to nonworking employees as part of the restructuring, according to McCarroll. The university has not provided an updated figure.

Danny Homan — president of AFSCME Council 61, which represents the unionized workers — said his organization is upset with the way Iowa State has handled the restructuring, calling it “privatization at its worst.”

He accused the institution of using contracted workers to perform duties of cut employees.

“They are doing the work our employees used to do, and we believe that’s inappropriate,” Homan has told The Gazette.

He said the issue could eventually end up in a grievance or litigation.

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