Charlotte YMCA furloughs 3,700 employees due to COVID-19 closures

Charlotte YMCA furloughs 3,700 employees due to COVID-19 closures
(Source: Chandler Morgan)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is furloughing more than 3,700 employees across its branches and camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization said Wednesday.

About 3,500 part-time staff and 240 full-time employees have been furloughed, according to a statement from the organization. The Charlotte YMCA closed its branches and camps March 17, temporarily suspending in-person classes and activities.

“Like many organizations, YMCA of Greater Charlotte last month made the difficult decision to furlough much of our team as a result of the mandated closure of our 19 branches and two overnight camps, due to COVID-19 pandemic,” read a statement from spokeswoman Heather Briganti. No employees have been laid off to date, she said.

The statement did not say how long the furloughs would last.

About 200 full-time employees are still working, including “a small group” of furloughed employees who were able to return to work to provide free childcare for essential employees of Atrium Health and Novant Health, according to the statement.

An Emergency Staff Relief Fund launched in March for YMCA employees’ immediate needs including housing, health care and transportation costs.

Several prominent nonprofits in Charlotte have already announced major cuts during the public health emergency. Discovery Place and the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden announced last month they were laying off three-quarters or more of their respective employees.

Local arts groups, already struggling financially after failing to convince voters to pass a sales tax referendum in November to fund arts, parks and education, have raised alarms about the threat of COVID-19 to their survival.

Nonprofits of all sizes and specialties are hurting, said David Heinen, vice president for public policy and advocacy for the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

In a survey of nearly 700 North Carolina nonprofits, nearly three-quarters said COVID-19 has had a significant impact on their operations, according to the center. Cancellation of events and programs, disruption of services and budgets were the top three areas of concern.

“Immediate financial assistance ... is the most immediate thing we’re hearing across the board for nonprofits,” Heinen said, noting that includes relief from the federal stimulus, donations or disaster loans. Other needs include help with transitioning to working remotely and handling tasks typically done by in-person volunteers.

In the Charlotte area, the COVID-19 Response Fund has raised nearly $15.6 million and will distribute money to local nonprofits over several weeks.