Texas State officials need to take advantage of alternative measures to help end the utilization of outsourcing for custodial vacancies at the university.
According to a Nov. 27 University Star article, Texas State began procedures last summer to outsource custodial positions. It was agreed the university would enter into a contract, which came into effect June 1, with McLemore Building Maintenance, Inc.
According to the same article, the positions will be filled by McLemore employees as Texas State-employed custodians retire or decide to leave over time. Many custodians hired by Texas State do not feel confident about the new employees’ abilities to do their jobs, although the university will ultimately save money because of this recent decision. It seems the need for custodial outsourcing stems from financial difficulties. However, Texas State really should not be struggling for money right now. According to a Sept. 18 University Star article, there are a total of 34,229 students attending the university.
Numbers from the Texas State website indicate the total yearly cost of tuition for a Texas resident living on campus is an average of $21,130 based on 15 credit hours a semester. The cost goes up to an estimated $31,660 a year for an on-campus non-Texas resident with the same amount of credit hours. Extra charges not included in tuition, such as library and student service fees, play a role as well.
Like many other institutions across the state, the university has suffered recent multi-million dollar budget cuts. Despite this, Texas State has fared well within the university system due to careful planning. It is unlikely the budget will experience a significant decline if the university continues to hire and keep Texas State-employed custodians instead of outsourcing them.
There are no plans to terminate any current Texas State custodians to make room for McLemore employees, according to the article. However, the prospect of outsourcing all custodial workers in the future may be a scary thought. In the article, Nance said the idea to completely outsource all custodial operations has been a popular topic for many years.
Any custodians employed by McLemore working at Texas State in the future will get fewer benefits than what current university-employed custodians receive. Right now, Texas State custodians receive a retirement program, health insurance, time off to enroll in classes and an increase of 1.5 percent every two years in their salary. Since McLemore is a private company, the benefit package they provide is not as accommodating as the one provided by the university. For any future Texas State custodial workers, this notion will likely be unsettling.
Texas State needs to seek other alternatives instead of choosing to outsource all of the custodial positions at the university. If Texas State students were hired to work part-time, similarly to those employed with the Bobcat tram system, the university could save money and help put an end to the outsourcing of custodial jobs. These students will be working for the university part-time alongside the experienced custodians. The students can learn from them and not have to be paid as much as full-time workers.
Custodians deserve the benefits granted to them as Texas State-hired employees. It is important that these benefits are preserved and not diminished through outsourcing. In addition, the university could more evenly redistribute money within the budget through a gradual give and take process to ensure custodians will not be fully outsourced in the future. With rising tuition and fee costs and a growing student body, money will continue to pour into the budget despite overall university debt and legislative budget cuts.
If these steps are taken by Texas State, outsourcing could largely be prevented, and Texas State-employed custodians could worry a little less.
—Molly Block is a mass communication junior.