Northeast State Community College is entertaining the idea of facilities outsourcing, a push that has been seen across Tennessee and met with backlash.
The Tennessee Board of Regents confirmed with News Channel 11 on Wednesday that Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is targeting the state’s 13 remaining community colleges that have not currently outsourced their facilities services. The investment management company will make proposals to these colleges, including Northeast State, in the upcoming months.
The college’s president James King told News Channel 11 that he met with his facilities staff to let them know that JLL will be making that proposal.
Tom Foster is the JLL director for the state of Tennessee facilities maintenance contract. He says the company is confident that JLL can provide cost savings while also maintaining high quality services.
“The State of Tennessee contract option requires that all employees of entities joining the new state contract be retained subject to the completion of standard criminal and drug screenings,” Foster told News Channel 11 in a statement.
JLL entered a contract with the state of Tennessee last year to provide the option of outsourcing to state agencies and colleges for janitorial and maintenance services.
“There are significant cost savings that you can’t argue with, but at the same time we’ll look at how it impacts the longtime employees,” King says.
This is the first time Northeast State is seriously considering outsourcing services, leaving some workers concerned about the status of their jobs. President King assured that once the outsourcing proposal is on his desk, he will weigh the benefits of both sides.
“This has been on the radar for a long time. We’ve talked about it as community college presidents and business offices but no real customized proposal has ever been set down and done. So we agreed- why not, let’s do it,” King says.
The United Campus Workers party of Tennessee has stood against outsourcing at universities across the state, including East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, both schools where the outsourcing movement has not succeeded.
Dennis Prater, a representative for the union at Northeast State does not believe outsourcing is the answer.
“There are better ways of fixing budgets than to take away from the people who are already some of the lowest paid people there,” Prater said.
He says he is not surprised by JLL’s proposal to outsource Tennessee’s community colleges and is critical of the outsourcing process as a whole.
“I believe that it’s a way of taking public money and putting it into private pockets of a few CEOs. In this case people who are based in Chicago.”
At the end of the day, it’s President King’s decision whether or not to accept the outsourcing proposal from JLL. He promises to make the right decision, with the workers and the university in mind.