By Tobin Jones
Interim-Chancellor Vurdien announced that City College intends to issue pink slips to a yet undisclosed number of employees. Vurdien said that the plan was “in keeping with our promise to become a fiscally solvent institution,” referencing official statistics showing a 26% decline in enrollment at City College, as well as a projected seven billion dollar state budget shortfall during the coming fiscal year.
Representatives for the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 reacted with alarm and dismay to the statement. Malaika Finklestein, the local’s president, stated faculty had been blindsided by the news during their first week back after winter break, saying, “On Friday we received a note from our chancellor saying, ‘Welcome back, maybe we’ll lay you off. Here’s a seniority list to check…Now go focus on your students.’”
Finkelstein dismissed arguments that the Board of Trustees and college administrators have no choice but to lay off staff to solve the budget crisis, suggesting instead that they lobby state and city officials, as well as consider putting additional tax increases and bond proposals to voters, to raise the needed funds. “Throwing up your hands is not acceptable. You know there are solutions,” she said.