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Furlough MOA

Friday, June 12, 2020

To our LCCEF Colleagues: 

Recently we have started our economic re-opener for our 2020 bargaining season. Due to the unique situation we are in with the COVID-19 pandemic, the College has an estimated $3.7 million budget shortfall. Out of that, the college would like to have us take measures to reduce the budget by $961,000.

The college originally asked us to take 2 furlough days between the dates of June 15th and July 25th. Realizing the significant budget shortfall we face, and the fact that the Board is looking at potential layoffs, we chose to voluntarily take 6 furlough days, in alignment with faculty, between those dates. In order to prevent long term loss of income, the College enrolled in the Oregon Employment Department’s (OED) Work Share Program. For each week that we take a furlough day through July 25, all classified members (who do not have any other jobs), will receive approximately 20% of the weekly benefit amount that they are eligible to receive of their Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit plus the the additional $600 per week CARES Act benefits enacted by the Federal Government back in March. 

How does WorkShare work? How much will I be paid?
The Oregon Employment Division’s WorkShare program allows for a “furlough” to be as little as 20% per week of an employee’s regular work week. A furlough is a reduction in pay due to a loss of hours. If an employee works 40 hours a week normally, 20% of their work week would be 8 hours, and a 20% furlough would reduce their pay by 8 hours. Because we are paid bimonthly, this comes to a reduction of 16 hours pay on the 7/10/2020, 7/24/2020, and 8/10/2020 payroll.  This means that the college can “furlough” classified employees for one day per week, and the employee can still qualify for UI benefits based on the percentage of the reduction. 

In addition, because  of the CARES Act enacted by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, any week before July 25 in which an employee is furloughed at least 20%, the employee is eligible for an additional $600. This amount is not prorated, so for a 1-day per week furlough, the employee will receive their 20% unemployment benefit plus the $600 benefit. In reality, the $600 benefit is reduced for taxes withheld, so the amount actually received will be $504. 

Which days are we being furloughed?
These furlough days will occur on five (5) of the College Closure Fridays that are in our contract, plus next Friday, June 19th. The furlough dates for most employees are:

  • Friday, June 19, 2020
  • Friday, June 26, 2020
  • Friday, July 3, 2020
  • Friday, July 10, 2020
  • Friday, July 17, 2020
  • Friday, July 24, 2020

Why are we taking our furlough days on our College Closure Fridays?
The reasoning behind this is threefold: 

  1. Our original College Closure Fridays are considered a ‘Paid Leave’ day, and the OED’s Work Share Program stipulates that IF ANY leave is taken during one of these weeks, then the employee will not qualify for either their weekly UI benefit percentage or the additional CARES Act funding.  
  2. The five College Closure days will be reassigned to new dates chosen by the College Administration and all Lane Community College campuses will be closed. Taking furloughs on our original College Closure days does not result in us losing those paid days off; they are simply moved to new dates later in the year.
  3. For each week that you take a furlough day, you will receive 20% of your weekly benefit amount plus $600 CARES Act funds.  

What does the MOA say?
Below we have broken down each article of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and have given a simple description of the expectations for both the College and the employees:

  • 1) “The following groups of classified employees (C1 and year round C2 employees as well as C3 employees working 40 hour weeks) who are eligible for benefits under the Work Share program shall be furloughed six (6) days, at a rate of one day per week, between June 15 and July 25. It is understood that July 25 is the last day for which CARES Act benefits may be received as a part of the Work Share program.” 
    • Explanation: This is explaining who is eligible and who is not to participate in the program. Most C3 employees will not be affected by the furloughs. There are some C3 employees on campus that are working 40 hour weeks. Your manager will let you know if you are affected.  
  • 2) “During the period of furloughs there will be no reduction in the health insurance contributions, leave accruals or any other benefits which employees currently receive.”
    • Explanation: These are stipulations that the Oregon Employment Department requires of the College to continue in order to participate in the Work Share Oregon program. All affected employees will continue to receive all leave and other accrued benefits that they would have received prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 3) “If the classified employee works in a department that will be closed on the designated Fridays during the summer, the furlough days shall be scheduled during the weeks of: June 15, June 22, June 29, July 6, July 13 and July 20 of the year 2020 in coordination with departmental supervision. Five (5) of these six (6) days were designated as 5 of the 10 College Closure days. These 5 College closure days shall be designated by the College on alternate days during the 2020-21 fiscal year.”
    • Explanation: This ensures that we do not lose the 40 college closure hours that we are entitled to receive according to our contract with the College. If you work in a department that is typically closed on our College Closure Fridays, then your furlough days will be:
      • Friday, June 19, 2020
      • Friday, June 26, 2020
      • Friday, July 3, 2020
      • Friday, July 10, 2020
      • Friday, July 17, 2020
      • Friday, July 24, 2020
    • If you work in a department that is typically open on the College Closure Fridays, the College Administration, your Manager, and your department will work together to schedule furloughs during each of these weeks. 
    • Please be aware of the following:
      • * Per the State of Oregon Employees HAVE to be ready and available to work EVERY work day of the furlough weeks. If there is a day where an employee is not ready and available for work, that employee will not receive ANY of the WorkShare benefits for that week. Presently, the only allowable exception per the State of Oregon is for any employee’s COVID-19 related illness. An employee that receives pay in the form of available accrued leave, College Closure hours, or other similar leave methods to achieve 32 hours of work completed, that employee will be ineligible for Work Share Oregon benefits. As mentioned above, all employees will receive 80 hours of ‘College Closure’ leave added to their leave accruals before June 30, 2020. At this time, the Cabinet will decide which days the closures will happen.
  • 4) “Employees who are furloughed under this agreement will not perform any LCC-related work duties during any of the furlough days or hours.” 
    • Explanation: This means that you are not on call and will not perform any job related tasks on or off campus. If your manager contacts you about work please let the union grievance officer know so that she can notify HR.
  • 5) “Any employee who has previously-approved vacation leave time that would render them ineligible for some or all of the Work Share benefit on the stated furlough days may choose to cancel or reschedule their leave to such time as would not interfere with benefit eligibility and the designated furlough days.” 
    • Explanation: This also correlates with number three above. If you have a scheduled vacation and plan to continue with that plan, that is your choice and will result in you forfeiting all of the benefits from the Work Share Oregon and CARES Act. If you don’t want to lose the added benefits, you may reschedule your vacation. Because this is a stipulation for the College to participate in the Work Share Oregon program, we were unable to make any adjustment to this in our bargaining.
  • 6) “For those employees who are subject to a full-time work reporting requirement, for example those who are subject to public service loan repayment, LCC shall report them as working full time.”
    • Explanation: This is an extra precaution we took and are grateful that the College sees the benefit in ensuring our Colleagues who may be participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program will continue to maintain their eligibility. 
  • 7) “Should it be determined that the employees as a whole are not eligible for Work Share benefits, or should those benefits compensate the employees in an amount that is less that they would have received without a furlough, then this agreement is null and void.”
    • Explanation: The union would and could not agree to the membership as a whole taking a loss in pay. This had to be in place to ensure no one faced a reduction in income.

How do I figure out how much I’ll receive in benefits? How is it calculated?
The base year calculation to determine what your estimated weekly benefit amount is will be based on your wages earned during 2019. You can calculate your estimated weekly benefit amount by doing the following:

  • Use the number in box one (1) of your 2019 W-2 and this benefit calculator to estimate your weekly benefit amount. Each employee would be eligible to receive up to 20% of their weekly benefit amount plus the weekly $600 from the CARES Act. 
    • You can find your 2019 W-2 from the College using the following steps:
    • Log into your myLane account
    • Select the ‘Employee’ tab
    • Select the ‘Prior Years W-2 Earnings Statement’ link in the ‘Payroll’ section
    • Choose 2019 tax year from the drop down menu (if you have a choice)
    • Click on ‘Display’

How soon will I get my Unemployment Insurance and CARES Act benefits?
Please be aware that there will likely be a delay in the State of Oregon getting you the UI and CARES Act benefits paid. We all need to be prepared for that. 

Do I need to fill out paperwork to receive these benefits?
We are under the impression that Human Resources will connect with employees in order to have them submit initial paperwork to the Work Share Oregon Program Division. On an on-going basis, the College will file weekly claim paperwork on behalf of employees.  

Something to note:
We realize that reading this may cause many to feel concerned about their personal finances. We want to remind everyone that eligible employees will receive 16 additional hours of pay on their 6/25/2020 payroll to fulfill their full 262 day contract for the 2019-2020 academic year as our prior Executive Council and Bargaining Team successfully negotiated.

Why wasn’t there a membership vote on the furloughs?
We realize it could be alarming to some that we signed an MOA for furloughs rather than completing this through an electoral process. Though the Executive Council is allowed to implement an MOA without a membership vote, this is not how any member of the current  EC wants our union to operate. The election process as outlined in our Constitution is unclear regarding online voting, and we were concerned that an online vote could be nullified; any amendment to the Constitution to allow online voting would have itself required a paper vote taking up to six weeks to complete. We were unwilling to risk layoffs, future furloughs without CARES Act benefits, and other factors while waiting for a membership vote. We hope you all understand our thoughts and will support a paper vote in the future to establish online voting. 

This total package results in a savings of approximately $490,000. This is only half of the funding that the College has asked us to meet; bargaining on the remaining economics is continuing. We were unable to risk countless family’s livelihoods and careers over an unclear voting process. We took steps to ensure there would not be any lost wages overall to our colleagues. We did this through the feedback received by email, polls, and people communicating directly with members of your executive council. Each of us had confidence the majority of our colleagues will be pleased to have their job and income retained during this tumultuous time. We recognize that we will not satisfy everyone with this decision. Even when we vote there are those who disagree. We hope you will recognize our intention was to save our jobs and prevent further departmental cuts.

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