Fordham University would naturally prefer that its vendors retain their workforce to continue to serve the University. However, the vendors cannot be compelled to retain employees on their workforce unless their salary and benefits costs are covered by Fordham.

The University has had to introduce significant cost-saving measures to cover increased operating and technology costs for remote instruction and staff working from home, in addition to issuing pro-rated refunds to students for room and board and certain fees. Unfortunately, it would not be prudent for the University to attempt to underwrite the continued employment of its vendors’ employees given the financial strain of these unanticipated circumstances.

While it is an imperfect solution, New York state offers unemployment benefits to the vast majority of unemployed contract workers, and under the Cares Act, unemployed workers may be eligible to receive both the usual state-provided benefit, plus an additional $600 per week. (The additional $600 is not capped at the employee’s weekly earnings.)

Most contract employees, as we understand it, will also retain their health benefits while they are furloughed.

In addition to the threat that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to the campus community’s physical health, it has caused a shock to the University’s finances that we are still working to contain. It simply is not possible for Fordham to accept financial responsibility for its vendors’ employees.