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Physical Plant accused of unfairly firing employees

By: Ginny Washbish

Rumors surfaced last week that the University of Louisville’s Physical Plant department was unfairly terminating their employees to cut costs. It was suggested that several employees were replaced by temps or forced to part time, saving the department from having to provide full-time benefits.

According to Mark Hebert, director of media relations, these claims are not true. Hebert states, “There are fewer full time employees. This is the result of 22 employees retiring through the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program.”

As an outcome, Physical Plant now has a smaller workforce. Hebert explained that once employees retire through VSIP, those positions are frozen and are not to be replaced. This is a way the University can save money.

The department however, is currently in the works of filing paperwork through the provost office to replace some of the lost staff. According to Larry Detherage, associate vice president for facilities, “The department is trying to rehire for some of the 22 positions lost.” Not all positions will be filled.

For the past three years, Physical Plant went through the ‘Temp to Hire Process.’ When seeking custodial employees, the department would work with the staffing agency, ‘Ahead.’ According to Hebert, “If after 90 days, the employee was good, the department would hire on the individual as a full-time employee with all benefits.”

This year however, Physical Plant has developed its own pool of candidates. According to Tina Pierce, assistant director for Physical Plant Business Office, “Once all agency employees have finished their 90 days, the department will begin to seek custodian staff through its own system.” By not relying on the outside agency, Physical Plant’s budget will benefit greatly.

According to the University website, The Physical Plant Department “is a service organization whose function is to maintain the physical facilities of the University of Louisville.”

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