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UJC starts its layoffs

As I reported earlier, the United Jewish Communities is attempting to make jobs at the organization disappear.

The umbrella organization for the North American Jewish federation system officially started laying off employees this week, part of a proposed $3.6 million budget cut that was mandated by the federations that the UJC serves.

The layoffs have already been determined, and the organization is notifying employees being downsized over the next week or so, according to UJC sources. The first slashes – aimed at cutting 37 jobs – will come from the UJC’s missions department, the group that arranges trips to places of Jewish interest, primarily for donors.

UJC’s Senior Vice President Barry Swartz and the head of the UJC’s Israel’s office Rebecca Caspi informed the federations of the cuts in the missions department via e-mail this week.

According to the e-mail, which the Fundermentalist procured, the missions office in New York will essentially be dissolved.

Here are a few of the changes that will be made (quoted directly from the e-mail in an effort to preserve the essence of UJC-speak). Effective July 1, the UJC will be:

* Phasing out US-based staff and transferring full responsibility for Israel missions to UJC’s Jerusalem office (non-Israel missions will continue to be managed from New York);
* Shifting responsibility for all travel arrangements, including registration and billing functions, to approved travel companies in Israel under the oversight of UJC missions staff;
* Transferring responsibility for logistical arrangements to approved travel companies in Israel under the oversight of UJC missions staff.

The Fundermentalist is concerned about the people who will lose their jobs – and those within the UJC say it is a nervous and sad time for employees as they fret over their careers and as many prepare to say goodbye to close work friends.

This cannot be an easy time for anyone involved; employees, CEO and President Howard Rieger and the UJC’s Chairman Joe Kanfer, who has seemed genuinely saddened in discussions with JTA about the layoffs.

On personal note, I just faxed to the now liquidated missions department my confirmation papers and travel plans for an upcoming UJC media mission to Sderot and Ashkelon in Israel, and have no idea if anyone will be around to receive the papers and book my flights. (To whomever does book my flight, I feel horrible for you and understand that you might be angry at the organization, but please don’t send me to Guam out of spite for your soon-to-be former bosses.)