Did the University of Minnesota lay off employees in a dignified manner?

Yesterday’s public forum on the University of Minnesota‘s budget for next year brought out critics of all types, just as last year’s did. Much of what they brought up — concerns over issues such as cuts, financial aid, the cost of college and health-care premiums — is standard stuff but always worth noting.

Where is the dignity?

The address below stood out to me, though. It wasn’t so much an employee complaining about the existence of layoffs, but how those layoffs were carried out.

In essence, employee Melanie Steinman claims the U treated 25 Office of Information Technology employees — many of them longtime workers — pretty shabbily when it laid them off. (Fourteen of those were in her union.)

In her address, she says the U held up the streamlining of that department as an example of reorganization earlier this year. I believe she’s talking about  this report here.

The meat of her address is below. I’ve done some light editing:

“These employees, barely receiving the basic courtesy of time to collect any more than a box-full of personal belongings, were given their lay-off notices and then told to leave on the spot. To get the rest of their belongings, they needed to schedule an appointment during non-work hours. These employees were not thanked for their service. Instead, many were escorted out of the building as plain-clothed police observed! When some of their coworkers that remained attempted to say “good-bye” / to get any word, any hint of what was going on, they were hushed. One laid-off worker reported that his supervisor held up a hand to block a coworker from trying to communicate to him.

There is a tiny line in their lay-off notices that reads, “This is not a reflection of the quality of your work.” Then why were these OIT employees shamed and treated like criminals in the course of these lay-offs? Where is the dignity?”

I have a call in to the U for comment.

Here’s a copy of the full address, which was provided by the union: