Laid off Ohio University staff share their worries

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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During the last few months, COVID-19 has resulted in opportunities being taken away in the blink of an eye.

"It's devastating to look at your child when for years I was telling her, ‘I'm sorry I can't go to the track meet because I have to make this money. But don't worry, I'm doing this so that way you'll have a career,” said April Lorring Stone.

But due to an unexpected job loss, April can no longer make that promise to her daughter.

"She won't be able to enroll. There's no way we can afford on our own to pay for our daughter's tuition.”

April is one of 140 union employees across Ohio University's campuses who have been laid off due to strict budget cuts. According to communications director Carly Leatherwood, those union workers were notified on May 1 that their layoff statuses would officially begin Monday, June 1. Leatherwood also says that from the eliminated positions, the University anticipates a cost-savings of more than $11 million.

April and her co-worker Talea Andrews both served as cooks for Ohio University in Athens before they were laid off. With a seniority-based selection process in place, Andrews is currently faced with a decision that could potentially place a financial burden on one of her co-workers.

"We have to choose a job and right now I have to pick six people's spots so that means six families that I have to go through,” Talea said. “So it's kind of traumatizing for me."

For people who haven't worked in their union positions for long, they may not receive this opportunity.

"Some of these folks have one or two years seniority,” said John Ackison, president of Local 1699. “They weren't up to full pay, and a lot of them were working minimum wage."

Leaving them to start from square one. With much uncertainty on whether or not union workers like April and Talea will be financially secure, all they can do is wait.

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