Wednesday, May 13, 2009


After determining that no portion of the 18% 2010 UJC Budget reduction would come from the salaries of the most highly compensated at UJC, 31 professionals and support staff were fired last week. The CEO expressed his "personal pain" in a bizarre Howard's View last week that somehow compared the anguish of a terminated UJC staff member engaged in the sacred work of community to that being felt by employees of Pontiac Motors!! Very compassionate...very. Here is Howard's warm message in relevant part: "As hard as it is to tell someone they are losing their job, it is infinitely harder to receive such news, and this time, those who will be joining the ranks of the unemployed will be doing so at a time of deep recession. For them, finding mew employment will be a real challenge." No comment necessary.

When it turns out that all those fired at 25 Broadway were women, given prior actions by this management, serious questions have to arise. Let's look at the record of last week's atrocity:

~ One of the those let go in the mailing list area had been a responsible staff member for 30 years...she and two others...gone.

~ The Network Director, a serious professional with a most difficult assignment which she handled with care and in which she worked assiduously to grow the financial resources without much support...gone.

~ The Speakers Bureau Director, who was one of the few direct points of UJC contact with the federations, and who had directed this area with great skill even with a declining Budget for many years...gone -- and I would guess with no "heads up," no prior discussion with Network lay leadership.

~ A wonderful professional, who worked with UJC Direct (one of the few areas of UJC interface with its owners, shut down last week as well) and had received the UJC "Customer Service Award"...gone.

These are but examples of dedicated staff members some or all of whose jobs might have been saved had UJC's Budget Chair and leadership approached their responsibilities differently. At a time that federations' staff (and even at law firms) across the country are reducing their compensation so as to save the jobs of others, at UJC...nothing. It's not their fault, you see; or their responsibility it appears.



Anonymous said...

That UJC direct employeee also did a major mitzvah during Katrina fundraising...on her own initiative, she got a major credit card to waive its fees...that also saved UJC some bucks.

Howard talks on and on about UJC's work during Katrina...this is how UJC rewards its employees who go beyond the call of duty?

Oh, that's right. The alternative would have been "bad for morale".

Betcha Howard didn't deliver the news personally. That's OK--he didn't last year, either. Guess that was left to the HR gang as opposed to King HR.

Oh, joy. The new UJC Chair nominee is a female. 31 for 1 is a fair trade, right?

Anonymous said...

Richard- I also feel compelled to write about this UJC Direct employee who first started out working in our finance dept (she was great there too!) There is only one word to describe her...she is a "mensch". She not only got the fees waived for UJC, she did this for the entire federation system. I believe it was over $500,000 in fees. In addition, she got the credit card company to donate $1 for each donation recieved. This was all documented in the Katrina fund book. She was also working tirelessly to setup the Katrina fundraising when everyone else was just scrambling around. This professional sent us a very gracious email that I have to share with you:
"As many of you may already know, Friday, May 15th will be my last day at UJC. I want to take this opportunity to wish you every success and to say thank you. Thank you for teaching me about the Jewish communal world and giving me so much support, guidance and encouragement during my seven years at UJC.

I feel extremely privileged to have worked with and learned from such an exceptional group of people at UJC. During my tenure at UJC I have witnessed the impact of our work on our global community. Whether it was mobilizing tens of thousands of people to march in Washington in support of Israel, helping communities affected by Hurricane Katrina or responding to crises in Argentina, Ethiopia and Israel, UJC was there. I have been fortunate to engage in this important work on a daily basis.
UJC has taught me the true meaning of tzedakah, Tikkum Olam (repairing the world) and the tradition of loving kindness."

She is one of hardest working people at UJC and deserves so much more than this. Just because they eliminated UJC direct does not mean we could not utilize her in another department.Who ever gets this talented individual will be very lucky. My heart goes out to her at this very difficult time since her husband was also laid-off last year and has not found another job yet.

UJC....where is your compassion?

RWEX said...


I want to thank each and all of you have written to this Blog with expressions of compassion and concern, friendship and love for the 31 dedicated staff members dismissed last week. You and the 31 and the 37 before them and all those who have been terminated or forced out are what holy work is all about.

It boggles the mind that two of those directly responsible for this sorry action through omission or commission but, certainly, in demonstration of a total lack of all that you have shown, have now been nominated for a promotion. This proves at UJC today as a lay leader the worse job you do the better the chance for advancement. I wish them well in their new roles, they can't do worse than they have in their present ones.

Anonymous said...

We should be outraged. I can atest to this young professional being a class act and a hard worker. She is always ready to lend a helping hand and is more knowledgeable than most of the people at UJC. In fact, people that work at UJC go to her for informaiton. She has not said one bad word about the organization or the people behind this stupid decision. In fact, she has actually come in everyday to continue working with a smile on her face.The ironic part is she is worth hundred times more than whatever they pay her but was probably only being paid less than 10% of Reiger's salary.Her email yesterday broke my heart....what a travesty.

marcia p said...

Rethinking Our ‘Human’ Communal Investment
Waves of cutbacks and layoffs during the past few months by local and national Jewish communal organizations, including UJC seem prudent in the face of declining philanthropic dollars and reduced budgets. Hundreds of Jewish communal professionals - fundraisers, social workers, rabbis, planners, programmers, communicators and marketers, along with administrators and support staff - with years of expertise and collective wisdom - have hit the pavement. Sure, it’s easy to proclaim to board members and donors: “We’ve trimmed our budget and cut back our expenses.”
Unfortunately, these decisions belie aggressive outreach during the past three decades to recruit and train Jewish communal professionals. The loss of so many dedicated workers translates into a huge waste of communal investment. Where’s the Jewish stimulus package? And, how is Jewish communal leadership protecting its fragile human investment?
Some generous foundations have set up funds to assist organizations hit by the Madoff catastrophe and current economic environment. While certainly an important, thoughtful stopgap, a bigger issue remains: harnessing the talents and skills of hundreds of unemployed Jewish communal professionals.
Admittedly, volunteer leadership, governing boards, and committees, set tone, direction, and policy for Jewish communal organizations. For the most part, however, it’s the Jewish communal professional who prepares the groundwork for the volunteer bodies and implements their decisions. And, it’s the professional, on-the-ground worker, serving in many roles, who enhances the Jewish people in so many ways.
This drain on the Jewish community seems shortsighted - a loss of people clearly dedicated to the interests of the Jewish people. Some thoughts: use this talent pool as the foundation of a highly skilled Jewish Peace Corp; create a virtual ‘space’ to keep these people in an organized supportive network on which communities can draw as the economy improves; offer online education, retraining, and professional guidance to network members; and create a professional databank by incentivizing professional recruiting firms to multi-list employment opportunities, much like real estate firms.
As a community, we need to take aggressive steps to chart a new course for our communal professionals that assigns them the respect, value, and place they’ve earned as the core and backbone of our Jewish communities.

Anonymous said...

Here's today's Boston Globe article on how the local Federation there is absorbing the financial hits.

Some employees are being laid off, but there are also salary cuts for senior staffers and furloughs for everyone making $45,000 or more.

This has no doubt saved some jobs.

Shame on UJC for not following the example of this Federation and others.

RWEX said...

Dear "Anonymous,"

What Boston's CJP leaders have done echies what federations across the country have done -- from Colorado to my own. In most instances the initiative has come from the professionals themselves. At you know, nothing...nothing.