UC Printing Services Set to Close

Photo: REASONS FOR CLOSING PRINTING:
•Decline in the local print economy
•Reduced budget campus-wide
•Trend toward online graphic arts communications
Kevin Hahn/Photo
REASONS FOR CLOSING PRINTING: •Decline in the local print economy •Reduced budget campus-wide •Trend toward online graphic arts communications


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Facing a dismal economy and depleted reserve funds, UC Printing Services-the main source of graphic arts, marketing and communications needs for several UC Berkeley departments and government agencies-will terminate operations within the next two months, campus officials announced Wednesday.

The department-which operated for 136 years and assumed its own unique role in history that included printing the original 1945 United Nations Charter-will shut down due to financial difficulties, according to campus officials. The move has elicited "disappointment and anger" from many employees and will force campus departments to look to potentially more expensive private alternatives to meet their printing needs.

In an April 7 e-mail to the faculty and staff, Associate Vice Chancellor of Business and Administrative Services Ron Coley said due to a decline in the print economy, the general economic climate and overall campus budget reductions, the campus has decided to cut the department.

Many employees said $2.9 million in the department's equipment reserve fund may have been used to sustain the department during the economic downturn, but money was distributed to other campus departments.

"(Printing Services) didn't have the political capital of some others on campus," said Printing Services Operation Manager John Rivera. "We had $3 million in reserves that was eventually used to fund other departments."

But Director of UC Printing Services Haron Abrahimi said the department would not have been able to use the reserve fund money because it was allocated specifically for purchasing equipment.

He said other uses were outside of the fund's scope, and the money was reappropriated for campus use.

"The purpose of the fund was to replace heavy duty printing presses," he said. "It wasn't a rainy day fund. Even if it had been, we would have needed special permission to use the fund."

"There were other departments that had money in reserve, and they did not take from those departments," Rivera said. "They took from us."

Campus officials, including Coley, could not be reached for comment as of press time Thursday.

Abrahimi said the department has been under financial strain since the onset of the 2001 recession, at which point it began reducing staff and operations. But Coley said in the e-mail that additional staff cuts were not a feasible option for keeping the printing services afloat.

"Additional staff reductions will not compensate for the current dismal economic situation," Coley said in the e-mail. "Further staff reductions would only have a deleterious impact on (the department's) ability to provide the quality service that customers have come to expect."

Rob Burgess, shift lead for printing services, said he was concerned about the cost of printing for other departments on campus that will be forced to look elsewhere for printing services once UC Printing Services ceases operations.

"The campus will have to turn to a different, private shop," he said. "There are places where if they see it's a campus job, they'll jack up the prices."

Department employees have yet to be notified of specific layoffs, though the operations are to be phased out over the next one to two months. The department has allocated paid time to help employees find new positions, Abrahimi said.

He added that campus Human Resources Department and CARE Services-a campus assistance program that provides free, confidential problem assessment and referral services for faculty and staff-will aid the department's employees while they search for new employment.

"They're allowed, during work time, to look for work," he said. "The most difficult part, personally, is to watch so many people who have been here this whole time as the department is closed."

Tags: UC PRINTING SERVICES


Contact James Zhao at [email protected]



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