MCC reorganization cuts jobs for Akron workers

By on January 26, 2012



Photo by Stan Hall
Warwick players (left to right) Chris Weiser (3), Jonathan Wenger (7), Jordan Smith (2), Asher Klahold, Shawn Mearig, Armin Efendic and Ryan Bertrando mob teammate Jordan Loose (center) after his kick went off a Hempfield player for the only goal of the game last Saturday.Photo by Stan Hall
Warwick players (left to right) Chris Weiser (3), Jonathan Wenger (7), Jordan Smith (2), Asher Klahold, Shawn Mearig, Armin Efendic and Ryan Bertrando mob teammate Jordan Loose (center) after his kick went off a Hempfield player for the only goal of the game last Saturday.

Nearly 25 percent of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) employees in Akron will be jobless due to agency restructuring.

As previously published in the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, Rob Byler, executive director of the global peace, relief and service agency, announced the changes Friday in a letter to MCC alumni as well as in an article appearing in an online edition of "The Mennonite" magazine.

The executive director of MCC Binational, Arli Klassen, is one of those whose job will be eliminated. MCC Binational, which oversees the functions of MCC U.S. and its sister organization, MCC Canada, will be dissolved as of March 31. Klassen will continue to serve as a transition adviser for the next six to nine months, after which she and her husband will return to Ontario, from where she originates.

Although Klassen feels this is good for MCC, 27 of 120 employees at the Akron site will lose their jobs. One additional worker will be relocated to a site in Asia. Five workers at other MCC U.S. locations also will be laid off as part of the transition.

The restructuring is administrative, according to Klassen, and will not change the program, mission or purpose.

Klassen said the new structure shifts responsibilities now held by MCC Binational to its counterparts in the U.S. and Canada.

MCC was formed in 1920 to provide relief to starving Mennonites in the Ukraine. As an offshoot, MCC Canada was founded in 1963. There has been frustration because MCC Canada did not have a say in international programs. Now the programs will be directly owned by both partners.

According to Klassen, the functions performed by MCC Binational — which is based in Akron — will continue to be performed, although some of those functions will be relocated. Losses will be spread over several months, beginning in October and continuing until May.

Although Byler works out of an office in Goshen, Ind., Akron will continue to serve as the primary office for MCC U.S. Byler visits the location monthly.

The Canadian branch will remain in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In this restructuring, international directors, who currently work out of offices in the U.S. and Canada, will be transferred to the regions they serve, Klassen added. The four service areas are Africa, Asia, Latin America/Caribbean and Middle East/Europe.

Klassen said that the changes are not being driven by money but the desire to most effectively carry out a partnership between Canada and the U.S. She expects in the end the number of staff and the costs will remain roughly the same.

The agency’s material resource center in Ephrata, which raises money through recycling projects, will continue operations. Klassen said the program, titled "New Wine/New Wineskins," has been in the works for five years. The cost of restructuring will total $1.5 million, including the price of implementing the new structure and severance pay.

In his letter to MCC alumni, Byler said restructuring will provide more accountability to the Anabaptist denominations that support the organization and will streamline MCC’s partnerships with other faith-based service groups.

James Logan, a member of the MCC Binational board, cast the lone vote against the proposal, saying he opposed the move because it will reduce the ethnic diversity of the MCC staff. More MCC, page A17

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