Former Canon workers still without employment
Several former employees who left Brandeis after the University contracted Xerox Corporation this summer to run the mailroom and copy center in Canon’s place are still without jobs.
Although Xerox offered to rehire some of the Canon employees, according to current mailroom manager Linwood Dailey in an interview with the Justice, employees like former mailroom manager Bill Bowen left because Xerox offered them about half of what they had been making previously. Dailey also said that Xerox has brought a machine to Brandeis that automatically sorts mail. Although mail media clerk Josh Motta said in an interview with the Justice that many of the former Canon employees were interviewed for jobs with Xerox, Dailey said that the machine only needs one operator, whereas about four or six people would be needed to manually sort the mail.
Director of Strategic Procurement John Storti first announced the switch to Xerox in an April 24 email to the Brandeis community, writing that the turnover would occur on June 1.
Brandeis allowed the former employees to be subject to the University’s severance policy, according to Executive Director for Integrated Media Bill Schaller in an email to the Justice. “Although they were employed by another entity, we took this step to recognize their service to the university community,” wrote Schaller in an email to the Justice. According to Bowen, no one in the mailroom was offered the buyout deal that was offered to a number of University staff members last year. Bowen attributed this to the fact that mailroom employees were not University employees but Canon employees.
The University’s severance policy provides four weeks of pay for up to two years of service, eight weeks of pay for two to five years of service, 12 weeks of pay for five to 10 years of service and 16 weeks of pay for more than 10 years of service.
According to former copy center manager Barry Hayes in an Aug. 26 Justice article, the University’s Vice President for Human Resources Scot Bemis sent an email to the now-former Canon employees several weeks after the announcement came that the University had sealed its partnership with Xerox, “telling us that he had just found out about our situation,” Hayes said. Bemis’ email stated that the University would allow the employees to utilize the Hiatt Career Center and other job searching resources and that the University would help them apply for and obtain interviews for other jobs on campus, Hayes said. However, according to Hayes, Bemis wrote that he could not guarantee that they would be hired.
According to Dailey, Mail Center Plus, which partners with Xerox to carry out processes and personnel management, offered the employees temporary positions before they were offered full-time positions.
Dailey said that the primary deterrent for former employees was that employees would not make the same wages that they were making before. “You’re starting with a new company; you’re basically starting from the beginning, you know, because you’re proving yourself all over again to a new company. I’m sure if it was the University, then they would continue to get what they were paid.” He added that new employers such as MCP have different standards of what they pay for each specific position.
According to Bowen, who was affectionately known as the “singing mailman,” in an interview with the Justice, Xerox initially offered him a job at $12.50 per hour for a 90-day trial period. Should the decision have been made to keep Bowen, he said that he might have been eligible for a $0.25 raise. However, Bowen said that this pay was about half of what he had been making as an employee after 35 years at the University. Bowen said that he was also offered a job as a night supervisor but that this job would require him to work until about 1:30 a.m. and prevent him from participating in theater productions and rehearsals at night.
Bowen then explained that the University had reached out to him regarding a potential job in September, but has not heard back from anyone since.
Former Canon employees such as Motta decided to take jobs with MCP. Motta has been at the University for about 17 years, he said in an interview with the Justice. According to Motta, his wage with Xerox is “about the same” as it was with Canon, although he said that he could not disclose his current wage.
“I decided to see if I could stay because I enjoy Brandeis. To me it didn’t matter as much the company, it’s just I like the Brandeis environment, so I was really happy to transition over a not have a problem with changing over because my job hasn’t changed all that much,” he said. “I’m doing what I was doing before, but I’m working a little extra with the new automated mail machine, so I’m doing an extra job.”
Motta said that his benefits are also similar. According to Dailey, employees such as Motta receive 401K plans, health insurance, dental insurance and vision insurance.
Bowen said that he received about $7,800 in severance pay from the University back in July, but noted that this severance pay delayed his unemployment compensation. In fact, he said that he had to return about $3,500 of his unemployment compensation because he was receiving the severance pay.
Both Bowen and Hayes have noted the role that age has played in employment opportunities. “It’s been a very discouraging experience to be turning 60 years old and to now have to start looking for work again,” wrote Hayes.
Bowen said that although he was told he could apply for other jobs at Brandeis, there are not many jobs at Brandeis “that I can go without having a bachelor’s degree, and at 62, I don’t think I’m going to be taking any courses to get a bachelor’s degree for the last few years of my employment life.”
According to Prof. Mary Baine Campbell (ENG), a number of faculty members have been discussing how to go about helping former employees such as Hayes and Bowen, she said in an interview with the Justice.
One suggestion that Campbell mentioned was creating a GoFundMe page for these employees, specifically due to the fact that the holidays are approaching, but she noted that discussions on how to handle the situation are still underway.