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Employees say they’re worried about more layoffs at WIU

More concern at Western Illinois University, as the board of trustees plans to meet again on Friday.

Employees said, they’re expecting more job cuts.

Staff members at Western Illinois University are nervous, along with community members and business owners. They said if more jobs are cut from one of the city’s largest employers, that means less foot traffic around town.

“It is psychologically traumatizing to be told to wait for an email to find out if you’re one of the people,” Heather McMeekan said.

One of the people to be laid-off, current employee McMeekan, said ahead of a board of trustees meeting planned for Friday morning.

McMeekan expects more job cuts, possibly hers– as part of the university’s plan to reduce expenditures by five million dollars this fiscal year.

Local businesses said fewer employees at the university means less foot traffic around town.

“The staff is what I call real people, they’re here year round,” Jackson Street Market Owner Terry Sparrow said. “We do feel the impact of losing them. A lot of them will probably be moving away, looking for a job.”

Sparrow said this isn’t the first time layoffs have affected them.

“We were impacted when WIU took the first cut with a lot of staff members, we saw a significant drop for a little while,” Sparrow said.

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said WIU is a premier employer in the region and more job cuts are a concern.

“We understand the significance of the institution on the community without a doubt,” Inman said.

Inman said he’s optimistic that WIU will make a turnaround under the incoming Pritzker administration.

The mayor also pointed out that community leaders continue to work towards job growth.

“I’d also like to remind folks that as recently as (Tuesday), in meetings with senior management at Pella Manufacturing here in Macomb, since the first of the year, they will nearly have doubled their employee base at the Macomb plant,” Inman said. “We’re optimistic and continue to be optimistic about the future of Western.”

Employees, businesses and community members– hoping for the best.

“There are better ways to do these things than what’s been being done. It has been heartbreaking to watch, quite frankly,” McMeekan said.

WIU’s next board meeting is scheduled for this Friday at 8 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.

 

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Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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