Some Texas State-employed custodians are questioning whether their shoes will be able to be filled by the new McLemore hires when the university eventually outsources all custodial positions.
Texas State started the process of outsourcing its custodians last summer. The university entered a contract, effective June 1, with McLemore Building Maintenance, Inc. McLemore employees will fill the vacancies as university custodians retire or quit over time. Some university custodians do not feel the McLemore employees will be able to provide the same level of service Demanding hours and tasks, fewer benefits and a lack of pre-existing loyalty to Texas State could be some hurdles the outsourced employees will face, some custodians say.
“We’re putting our lives into this place and hope we will be able to retire some day,” said a custodian who wished to remain anonymous. “We don’t understand how they think the outsourced people are going to do a greater job than regular state employees could do when they don’t have the benefits and get paid less. They don’t have the loyalty.”
Kim Graves, director of Custodial Operations, said as of Dec. 1 her department will employ 88 Texas State custodians. She said there is a traditionally high turnover rate in the custodial industry. Brent Losak, a former worker under Custodial Operations, now works for the. Losak said it is a cause for concern if a department in a growing institution has frozen the number of in-house employees and started outsourcing.
Brent Losak, custodian with the department of Housing and Residential Life, said he used to work the night shift in Alkek Library during his time with Custodial Operations. He recalled one instance in which there were four custodians cleaning all seven floors of the library. Graves said the university operates under a cleaning standard that says a custodian should be able to clean roughly 18,208 square feet in a seven-hour shift.
However, Juan Guerra, associate vice president of Facilities, said each Texas State-employed custodian is currently cleaning approximately 31,818 square feet. In comparison, Graves said it takes two or three times as many McLemore custodians to complete the same work as one Texas State-employed custodian.
“Somehow (McLemore is) making money,” Graves said. I don’t know if they’re paying their employees less. I just know how many employees we counted, and we didn’t send that many employees.”
One Texas State-employed custodian, who wished to remain anonymous, said he believes the university is outsourcing custodians to save money by not having to give benefits to such staff members in the future.
As state employees, university custodians receive health insurance, a retirement program and 1.5 percent salary increases every two years, among other benefits. Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services, said because McLemore is a private company, it does not have a benefits package as extensive as those provided by state entities.
Though the custodian said he believes the outsourced workers will be paid less, Curtis McLemore, CEO of the maintenance business, said his company’s wages and rates are “within competitive industry standards.” Nance said the starting salary for McLemore custodians is approximately the same amount as the starting wages for Texas State custodians, $16,000 to $18,000.
The custodian said he and his co-workers don’t think the university will get the same level of cleaning from McLemore staff because the outsourced workers don’t have loyalty to Texas State.
Losak said he has enjoyed his time as a Texas State custodian, but is concerned about the future of the department.
“If you find that a department has a high turnover rate, low morale and can be demonstrated to be consistently asking each employee to cover on average what should be the duties of two full-time employees, most reasonable people should start asking questions as to whether there’s some mismanagement going on there,” Losak said.