Despite a plan already in progress to outsource all of the university’s custodial services, Texas State officials need to reconsider their strategy and keep the staff employed by the institution.
The university has built a beneficial relationship with its custodians over the years by offering extensive support and benefits packages for the employees. However, according to a Nov. 27, 2012 University Star article, Texas State has started the process of outsourcing its custodial positions to Houston-based McLemore Building Maintenance, Inc.
As university custodians retire or quit over time, McLemore employees will fill in the vacancies, according to the same article. Although the outsourcing of custodial services is anticipated to save money for the university, it will create a negative impact on custodians and Texas State students. Texas State must revisit the contract and continue to employ its own custodians.
Custodians employed under McLemore will receive fewer benefits. In the same University Star article, Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services, said that McLemore does not have a benefits package as extensive as the one at Texas State. Texas State custodians earn health insurance, a retirement program and a 1.5 percent salary increase every two years. On the other hand, CEO Curtis McLemore described his company’s benefits as within “industry standards” in the same article. Texas State custodians are hard-working men and women who have difficult but essential jobs. It would be unfair for future custodians to work in a company that provides few job benefits.
The custodians’ commitment and work ethic toward Texas State might additionally suffer. This is because outsourced custodians would be employees of McLemore and not the university directly. A Nov. 29, 2012 University Star article states the starting salary for a custodian is $16,000 to $18,000, which means that benefits appear to be essential for the job. Kim Graves, director of Custodial Operations, noted in the same article it takes two to three times as many McLemore custodians to complete the work of one Texas State employee. In essence, McLemore employees may put less effort into their services if they are offered lower benefits than what the current Texas State-hired custodians receive.
Texas State custodians are responsible for cleaning extensive areas. The same Nov. 29 University Star article noted that the university’s cleaning standard is roughly 18,208 square feet per custodian during a seven-hour shift. However, because of a freeze in the number of in-house employees, Texas State-hired custodians clean approximately 31,818 square feet, which is almost double the amount the university set as its standard. Currently, the beginning stages of the university’s plan to outsource all custodial services are putting a greater burden and workload on institution-hired staff. Texas State’s growth should be matched with an increase in the number of in-house custodians instead of McLemore employees.
The alternative solution to outsourcing custodial services is to find money in other areas to support the operations. The university could attempt to reallocate some funding from other campus services such as athletics. The most adequate solution, however, would be for the administration to lobby the state legislature for more funds.
According to a Jan. 29 New York Times article, the state of Texas has $8.1 billion in a Rainy Day Fund. Texas State officials should lobby to secure adequate funding for custodial operations without having to outsource the services to a private company. Texas State officials should not have to hire an outside company that may lower the benefits of custodians when there is a major fund available in the state’s coffers.
Texas State’s contract to outsource its custodial services to McLemore must be reconsidered. Plans to potentially reduce custodian job benefits through outsourcing would have negative consequences on future employees. University officials must request, through lobbying state representatives, additional funds to provide for custodial services.