By Joseph Lyell —
As the university continues to outsource operations, 19 employees of print, design and postal services got pink slips April 5. On March 15, U of L’s Board of Trustees approved outsourcing their work to Canon.
University spokesperson John Karman said the Canon deal will save $500,000 annually.
The employees were told their jobs will be phased out by June 30. One print shop worker said they watched as their reduction in force (RIF) packet rolled off the printer in the Miller IT Building.
The laid-off employees can apply for Canon jobs, but the work could be different. Compensation, hours and even responsibilities can change under the new management. Canon representatives were to meet with them April 10 to discuss specifics of the contract.
Chief Operating Officer Joseph Han will attend the Canon meeting.
Executive Director for Auxiliary Services Bob Knaster said Canon wants to hire back any university print shop or mail room employee that applies. He said their experience and familiarity with the operations makes them the most valuable candidates.
In a heated meeting April 5 with administrators about the layoffs, print shop employees were informed of the decision to outsource.
“(Knaster) handed us our packets and said ‘I’m turning the meeting over to them,'” one print shop employee said.
Postal employees met separately with Knaster and other administrators.
“We begged for the meetings that were going on all along for us to be together so we could all hear the same message, and a different message was being relayed to both departments,” the print shop employee said.
Knaster said one employee told him directly: “I will not be working for Canon.” He said he would expect them to change their mind if forced to choose between Canon and unemployment.
“I am concerned for their wellbeing, understand this change is upsetting and will do everything in my power to ease the transition,” Knaster said.
Employees still said the decision could still be reversed, but they don’t expect any changes.
“The fix is in. (Knaster) can change that,” one print shop employee said.
Employees told The Cardinal they are still unsure of their options. Knaster said university programs can help them land on their feet, but it is the employee’s responsibility to use them.
He said the university gives preference in hiring to employees in RIF programs, but will not specifically try to reassign the separated employees.
Canon will move printing and mail services to the new SAC wing this fall. Knaster said the decision to relocate was opportunistic. Space in the SAC was freed up while companies like Xerox, Toshiba and Canon were bidding on the contract.
Canon representatives will be visiting campus this week to develop a plan to house printing and mailing services in the new SAC wing.
“It’s sort of going to look like Kinko’s on the front end,” Knaster said. He said the technology in both departments will be getting much needed upgrades in their new locations.
Graphic by Mitchell Howes / The Louisville Cardinal