Misinformation about the number of employees affected by reengineering has been circulating around the Institute.
To date, the only department to experience layoffs because of reengineering has been the Office of Laboratory Supplies, which closed last summer. Twenty-six employees received layoff notices; three others were transferred to the general purchasing or reengineering staffs.
The notification periods for the laid-off employees ranged from two months to as many as ten months, depending on payroll status and length of service. During the layoff notice period, an individual is considered to be an active employee and expected to work a regular schedule, although release time may be given for job-search activities.
Of the 26 employees receiving layoff notices, 15 were service staff members, five were support staff members and six were administrative staff members. At present, four of the former OLS staff are seeking new jobs.
Service staff employees are subject to collective bargaining through the Research, Development and Technical Employees Union (RDTEU). Their agreement affords them bumping privileges through which an employee with seniority can apply for a position held by an employee with less service and, if found qualified by the supervisor, supersede the junior employee. Some service staff members who landed other positions were subsequently affected by layoff because of research funding cutbacks, not reengineering. Other service staff members retired. One person left MIT to take an outside position.
During the initial months of the notice period, weekly sessions were conducted on campus by Manchester, Inc., a leading outplacement specialist. The sessions, which included individual counseling, focused on job-search techniques such as skills assessment, tracking the job market, writing resumes and cover letters, and interviewing. The Massachusetts Department of Employment and Training as well as Rapid Response also came to MIT to explain their operations and services. The employees were allowed to take up to three MIT-paid computer courses through Information Systems.
Throughout this period -- and continuing -- the employees receive support from the Personnel Office in locating positions within the Institute and also have access to a career resource database network and job listings from other employers.
Many people in our community expressed concern about the employees who were laid off when the Office of Laboratory Supplies (OLS) was closed. Darlene Messmer from the Community Involvement Team spoke with three of those employees for their impressions of the process and the services MIT provided. (See the related story by Alyce Johnson.)
Vicki Hubby DeCarli, who had been an administrative assistant in OLS, found a job as an administrative assistant in the President's Office. She did not need much resume help from Manchester Inc. because her resume was already up to date. She started looking for a new job at MIT even before the official notice that OLS would be closed. She found that the Personnel Office was very helpful.
"Bill Dickson gave us straight talk when he came down to OLS to tell us about the closing. Before that, dealing with the rumors was the most difficult part," Ms. DeCarli said. "Forced retirement on some of the long-term employees bothered me the most," she said.
Steven Tardivo, who had been a senior stock clerk at OLS, now works for VWR Scientific, one of MIT's partners in providing laboratory supplies. "Manchester was a good service. It helped me get my new job, and things seem to be going well with VWR," Mr. Tardivo said
Thomas Hoole, who had been the business officer at OLS, is now assistant to the director for purchasing methods & procedures in the Purchasing department. "Personnel held office hours in our building, which made it a lot easier," Mr. Hoole said. "Manchester revamped my resume and provided insight on interviewing and the job search process," he said.
"I think the layoff was handled fairly," Mr. Hoole said. "The resources we needed were made available and time to look for jobs was given. Being first was hard, but we got a lot of attention," he said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 13, 1995.