FLIK Furloughs Workers as Concern for Non-Teaching Staff Mounts


On March 10, UNIS campuses in New York City were officially closed through Spring Break, and after various postponements, the closure has been extended to September. Though the school is active remotely, our non-teaching staff, like our student supervisors and cafeteria workers have been left without a workplace, raising questions about whether or not they are getting paid.
After talking to the head of the cafeteria, Mr. Dorn, and the Director of Human Resources, Mr. Byrne, these doubts have been clarified. As for Jorge, Jon, Ms. Angela, and Ms. Thompson, those who are always by our side in the hallways, roof, and cafeteria, they all appear to be doing well and staying positive, supported by the UNIS Administration by still receiving their salary. However, they have had to adjust to this “new normal,” as Dr. Brenner calls it, and remold their usual job with flexibility. “They have been instrumental in helping cover security at UNIS and they have been organizing break activities for the middle school students with the support of Ms. Perez,” stated Mr. Byrne. Despite our campus being closed and students not filling the building, student supervisors are still there for us, replying to our emails and forming a part of this online UNIS community that we have become. Jorge says, “Yes, this situation is terrible for everybody, but we have to stay strong and together. We will beat the enemy. ”
Then there is the cafeteria staff from FLIK Hospitality (the UNIS dining vendor), who work diligently to provide us food all throughout the year. Unfortunately, they can’t work in these times and therefore are on furlough, which means that they are on temporary unpaid leave caused by special needs of the company, in this case due to the pandemic.
Mr. Dorn explained that they “continue to receive all benefits they chose to take with our company (medical, dental etc.), ” as well as free Telehealth services. “In almost all cases our associates are doing well financially due to the combination of NYS Unemployment and the CARES Act provisions,” stated Mr. Dorn. NYS Unemployment has always provided financial aid to those without a job in New York state, and the CARES Act focuses on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, which is what it stands for.
According to the website of the U.S. Department of Treasury, it provides “fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families.”
Over the past few months of lockdown, UNIS has not only made sure that students received their education, but also that the staff and faculty are financially provided for by adapting their jobs to the new way of living demanded by the pandemic.
FLIK Hospitality believes they prioritize the health of their associates and continues to provide them with insurance, despite having them on furlough. Mr. Dorn firmly said, “all of the employees who choose to come back when school opens will have employment with us.”
That will hopefully be soon, as the CARES Act, as well as other federal benefits tied to the pandemic, is set to expire on July 31st. Outside our building, throughout the country, workers are facing many different financial situations, and this is happening at a smaller scale at UNIS.