Texas A&M’s outsourcing plans have workers concerned and they should be. Does contracted labor generally means low wage jobs without benefits?
When the Texas A&M University System announced that its flagship would gain $260 million in new revenue and savings in the next 10 years by outsourcing its building maintenance, landscaping and dining services, Chancellor John Sharp said the plan was an unprecedented way to raise money in financially struggling higher education.
“Today’s announcement means more money will be available to recruit, pay and retain faculty and researchers,” he said at a news conference on June 21.
But excitement over the plan is not universal. Many people on campus and in the surrounding community are worried and angry. A&M staff members who perform the support services have expressed concern over their future employment. And Bryan-College Station vendors fret that they could lose one of their biggest clients.
“Texas A&M has one of the finest business schools in the country, and yet we can’t figure out how to in-house save money out of our department,” said Walter Draper, an assistant custodial supervisor and one of the outsourcing plan’s many detractors.
As financially squeezed public universities increasingly turn to the private sector to generate revenue, their actions can create discord within college communities. The University of Texas at Austin has been derided for starting the Longhorn Network, a 24-hour sports channel that it said would raise hundreds of millions of dollars but that has failed to win major cable contracts.
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