Tennessee Tech University has contracted with Service Solutions Corp. for the management of campus custodial services, effective May 1, 2012.
Understandably, the TTU community has questions about this decision. Answers to the most frequently asked questions are below.
How was the decision reached?
An administrative committee requested and reviewed proposals from vendors of cleaning services. A Letter of Intent to Contract identified SSC as a preferred vendor. The contract was accepted, and the Tennessee Board of Regents approved the buyout and reduction in force packages now being offered to custodial employees.
Have the custodians been notified?
Yes. They met with university administrators on Jan. 18, 2012, to receive information concerning the Letter of Intent to Contract. Each custodian received a personalized buyout package offer after TBR's approval of the packages. Custodial services staff also met with SSC representatives to discuss future employment options and expectations.
Why is Tech doing this?
The move will save the university about $1 million a year in direct costs. Initial costs for the buyout and reduction in force packages of about $1 million will delay the savings for about a year. Permanent, recurring reductions in state funding require the university to act now to identify long-term savings.
What is the current outlook for Tech's overall budget?
This year, about $939,000 of projected tuition revenues did not materialize because of reduced enrollment in graduate programs. We also received a little more than $623,000 of nonrecurring transition funds to address the removal of the hold harmless. However, this is a permanent reduction to our budget effective July 1 when the nonrecurring funds are removed. We also face an $825,900 permanent reduction in state appropriations for FY2011-12.
This makes up the majority of the $2.4 million problem we have been discussing this year.
What will happen to the custodians?
SSC has offered employment to all TTU custodians at the same rate of pay.
Custodians with more than 15 years of TTU service as of April 30, 2012, have a choice to remain a TTU employee or to accept a buyout package and leave university employment.
Are buyout packages different based on years of service?
Yes. Every TTU custodial service employee will receive a severance payment of $3,200, as well as a payment based on years of service. All will receive payment for accrued, unused annual leave and compensatory time. All will have the option to take $6,400 in tuition benefits per year for two years. For details on the service payment calculation, please see the information at the link below.
Employees with five to 15 years of service will get all of what is listed above and will keep their vested retirement benefits.
You can view the voluntary buyout program and RIF details here.
How many employees are affected?
TTU currently employs 60 custodians on the main campus. Fifteen custodians have more than 15 years of service with the university.
Custodial jobs at TTU have not been lost. They remain in the community. The need for cleaning and servicing TTU facilities remains, and each custodian will have future employment, opportunities for promotion, and education/training options.
How will custodians' benefits be affected if they go to SSC?
Custodians who transfer to SSC will receive the same pay they earned as TTU employees. They will have the options of medical, dental, vision, life and long/short term disability insurance through SSC. The employer will pay a percentage of medical insurance premiums.
What happens after the custodians have worked at SSC for six months?
Custodians who choose to go to work at SSC will continue employment with SSC even after the six-month period included in TTU's Request for Proposal has expired. As with any employment, job performance is key to continued employment.
What will their shifts be as SSC employees?
SSC considers the class schedule in each building and sets shifts based on those schedules. The majority of classroom cleaning will take place in the morning. A typical first shift for the company is 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. in academic buildings. A large group of custodians typically gathers to do the heavy cleaning in classrooms first, then the custodians move to the buildings to which they are assigned. Custodians assigned to residence halls will start working around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., once students are awake.