Your campus, your voice:
Faculty urges U of M board not to outsource
The University of Memphis’s transition to a local governing board carries great uncertainty. While the new board of trustees will allow for more autonomous decision-making, it remains unclear how the board will handle higher education’s most controversial issues.
For instance, the question of outsourcing facilities’ services remains a deep concern for staff, faculty and students as the contract signature deadline of April 28 approaches. We applaud President M. David Rudd’s firm and consistent stance to not outsource our custodians, landscapers, electricians and maintenance workers at the University of Memphis. However, it is troubling that the new board of trustees may reject Dr. Rudd’s passionate position in one of its first actions.
On March 17, Dr. Rudd reiterated his stance on outsourcing during a townhall meeting on the board transition: “We’re not going to outsource. I’ve said that for the last two years. I’ll make it a trifecta. There’s no indicated need for it. The individuals that work in physical plant do a remarkably good job. I think we can pay better, and we’re going to work on that over time. So, no, we won’t be doing it.”
The reasons not to outsource become even more compelling when considering the threat to quality of services due to frequent turnover of outsourced labor, the loss of good benefits for employees who have served the university for decades and the loss of important institutional memory carried by these employees. For our new board members to vote to opt-in outsourcing would send the wrong message to the campus community and to the entire Memphis community.
Dr. Rudd has witnessed up close the value of our physical plant employees. He has rightly pointed to the quality services delivered by our current physical plant staff. We respectfully urge the board to follow his lead on this issue by making a public commitment to opt-out and taking the extra step of getting to know our facilities services employees.
Antonio de Velasco
Nathan J. DeYonker
The signatories to this letter are current U of M faculty and administrative staff.