University of New Mexico Press Staff Shaken Over Layoffs

by Staff

The University of New Mexico Press, reportedly facing an operating deficit as a result of the current recession, recently announced layoffs and the possibility of outsourcing distribution, according to a strongly worded press release circulated yesterday.

The first cuts came when marketing and sales manager Glenda Madden, who has served at the press for seven years, and junior acquisitions editor Lisa Pacheco, were both advised that their jobs would be eliminated on Monday. The publicity department was also notified that it will have to slash one of its two positions, and press authorities have stated that outsourcing of warehouse and customer service jobs may be on the horizon.

According to the press release, publicist Amanda Sutton was advised by business manager Richard Schuetz and press director Luther Wilson that she would have to choose whether it would be herself or her assistant, Katherine MacGilvray, who would be let go from the publicity department. "I have a difficult time determining the fate of a fellow colleague, to whom I owe much loyalty and respect," Sutton said in the press release. "Sacrificing up a colleague is not part of my job description."

"Both members of the publicity team are extremely well connected in the media world and have been landing key coverage about UNM Press books in spite of budget cutbacks," said advertising and exhibits manager Christina Frain. "The books, their authors, and our client publishers will only see negative results if these layoffs go through."

The jobs of nine employees, as well as three student positions—in customer service, shipping and receiving, order fulfillment, and warehousing—are also in jeopardy as the press considers outsourcing distribution. The move would also affect over thirty client publishers who use the press to oversee order fulfillment.

"In addition to laying off at least nine dedicated employees, outsourcing is a slap in the face to the community, state, and region that UNM Press has served so well for eighty years," said Madden, who saw the negative effects of distribution outsourcing at another university press.

In an e-mail to staff regarding the "new organizational arrangement," Schuetz wrote, "I know this will not be easy for a lot of reasons and will involve a number of changes but I think we can make it work. We don’t have any other choice."

According to Frain, staff members have expressed frustration with the lack of input they have been invited to provide regarding sustainable solutions for the press's budgetary situation.

"The layoffs and the possibility of outsourcing came out of the blue," said Frain, who also acts as fundraising coordinator. "Even though the UNM Press staff is one of the most experienced in the book publishing business, they were never consulted by the provost [Wynn Goering] or Mr. Wilson regarding the development of long term solutions for the viability and success of the press. We were only asked how to cut expenses."