Mar 29, 2024 - News

University of Arkansas decides it won't outsource jobs

photo at University of Arkansas

Photo by Lance King/Replay Photos via Getty Images

The University of Arkansas will not outsource its custodial and groundskeeping work, university spokesperson John Thomas told Axios.

Why it matters: Talks of outsourcing those jobs to a private company drew pushback from employees, who protested earlier this month.

Opponents said the move would lead to new custodians and groundskeepers being paid less and not receiving tuition discounts for themselves or their spouses and children, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The private sector can also fire employees at will.

What they're saying: "While our conversations with [SSC Services for Education] were productive and had the potential for some level of cost savings … we are better served to look internally at our own structure and operational processes to cultivate efficiencies for ourselves," wrote Ann Bordelon, executive vice chancellor for finance and administration, in an email to staff.

State of play: As the university grows, so does the need for custodial and groundskeeping service.

  • The departments of facilities management, student affairs and athletics will work toward a more centralized management structure of custodial and grounds operations, while retaining current staff, according to the email.

The big picture: UA's custodial and grounds staff numbers about 200. It anticipates spending $14.56 million on salaries and benefits for custodial staff and $3.33 million for grounds staff, according to university documents.

  • The most the university paid to any nonsupervisory custodial worker during the second half of 2023 was $22,114, according to the University of Arkansas System's open checkbook.

Zoom out: The university outsources food-service jobs to Chartwells and bookstore positions to Barnes & Noble.

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