Legislators will meet to discuss ETSU custodial outsourcing

Gary B. Gray • Sep 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM

State legislators will meet next week to learn more about East Tennessee State University’s possible switch to contracted custodial services.

ETSU spokesman Joe Smith told the Johnson City Press last week that custodial services provided at the university by about 100 employees could be outsourced to a third-party company in an effort mainly to save the cost of benefits.

ETSU President Brian Noland has said that the school is looking for ways to save money. But at this point, the outsourcing in mind is only being considered for custodial services and would not affect other employees in the university physical plant.

Most universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, the entity that governs ETSU, already contracts custodial services. The university’s campus food services and on-campus bookstore already are operated by third-party vendors.

State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-7th, said Thursday he was aware a meeting was being scheduled to discuss the matter and that state Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-6th, and state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, also would be invited to attend.

“I do know that I will be meeting with them next week,” Hill said about the future of the custodial situation. “I’m not certain, but I believe Dr. Noland also will be there. We’ll talk about the situation. That’s all I know right now. I’m just trying to learn more.”

Crowe said late Thursday by telephone that he expects to get a call after hearing about Hill’s remarks.

“I don’t know anything about that, and I haven’t been contacted by anyone,” Crowe said. “I do know there’s some of that happening in Nashville.”

Smith said last week that a final decision has not been made, but the school is in discussions with two state contractors that could provide the needed services. He also said if the university did outsource custodial services, each ETSU custodial service employee would have the opportunity to transfer to the new company at his/her current hourly rate.

The university also would likely offer long-time employees who have been with ETSU for a considerable number of years and are nearing retirement to remain on the payroll under the current retirement plan.

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