Texas A&M maintenance, landscaping, custodial, and dining employees met with A&M President R. Bowen Loftin and University System Chancellor John Sharp Thursday morning to learn their fate in the university's plan to outsource their departments.
"There have been some months here of uncertainty, anxiety and for that I'm sorry," said Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin.
"You are owed a lot a thanks, gratitude for your devotion to our students faculty and other staff."
The employees were told Compass Group will take over all four areas that the university planned to outsource.
Compass Groups USA Executive Vice President for Sales Kurt Kimball laid out the terms of their winning contract. A five year deal matching salaries, benefits and time-off, plus a 4% raise.
The employees were told by Chancellor Sharp that all employees will be hired by Compass Group and be given a 4% pay raise. President Loftin says the plan would be for a five year contract with Compass Groups with a possibility of a five year extension.
Loftin says he will be finalizing the contract in the coming weeks.
Employees who attended the meeting were apprehensive about the changes. Kurt Kimball, executive vice president of sales for Compass Group, told the crowd that they were here to protect them.
During his short presentation, Kimball showed a slide that reinforced what Chancellor Sharp said, that every employee currently hired would be hired by Compass USA. They would get the same salary, benefits, time-off, seniority, job description and take-home pay. The only difference would be the logo on the check.
What employees are most concerned about, and what was not thoroughly explained in the 10 o'clock meeting, is their retirement through the state. The Teachers Retirement System is only available to state employees. As the employees will no longer work for Texas A&M when the contract is signed they wonder what happens to the money they have poured into that system?
A Compass Groups Human Resources official answered, repeatedly, that they would be working one-on-one with employees to make sure that they would be taken care of.
Compass Groups said they are matching what employees have with Texas A&M for two years. After that, they will have the authority to transfer, or even eliminate, jobs.
It has current staff cautious... but optimistic.
"The reassurance coming from the Chancellor that everybody was going to be taken care of that was good," says Alma Villarreal, a Texas A&M employee.
"The morale has been so low and there's so many things out there that the reaction wasn't there because they're still a little apprehensive about is this true, is this really gonna happen?"
Employees hope that over the next few weeks they'll get their answers.
Shortly before noon on Thursday, Texas A&M issued the following press release:
"Chancellor John Sharp announced today that The Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M University have awarded a contract to Compass Group USA to manage and operate dining services, building maintenance, landscaping services and custodial services located in Brazos County. Compass Group was selected after a Request for Proposals was issued in February.
As part of the agreement, Compass Group will pay the A&M System a significant concession fee and invest in facilities upgrades to existing dining services infrastructure, which will begin almost immediately. Over the course of the next 10 years, this arrangement will produce $260 million in revenue and cost-savings for the A&M System, comprised of a projected $125 million in revenue from food services, and $135 million in revenue and cost savings from facility services.
“When I took this job, I made a commitment to get greater value out of scarce resources so we could advance our core mission of teaching and research,” said Sharp. “Today’s announcement means more money will be available to recruit, pay, and retain faculty and researchers.”
“It requires innovation and a willingness to ask tough questions to operate a university,” said Richard A. Box, chairman of the Board of Regents. “I’m very proud of the way Chancellor Sharp and President Loftin worked together to identify savings while remaining committed to keeping the employees who provide important services to the university. We are indeed poised for a bright future.”
Compass Group also committed to retain the current university and A&M System workforce. They agreed to hire all current employees working in the four affected areas, and will match their salaries and benefits, and will offer enhanced training opportunities.
“Compass Group is honored and thrilled to be awarded these contracts and become part of the Texas A&M community,” said Kurt Kimball, executive vice president of sales for Compass Group USA. “As the world’s leading contract foodservice and support services company, our unique sectorization presents new associates with opportunities for advancement within one global company with unlimited global resources.”
Compass Group currently provides food and support services to about 300 colleges and 6,000 schools nationwide, including Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, a member of the A&M System, which uses the company for its custodial services.
“We were able to realize major financial benefits while keeping faith with university employees,” said Sharp. “The folks who work our food lines, landscape A&M’s beautiful campus, and clean our labs and classrooms will all have job offers with comparable benefits.”
“This private concession agreement will tremendously benefit our academic mission while protecting the jobs of our employees. This is an historic accomplishment,” said Sharp.
The agreement is expected to be finalized in time for Compass Group to assume management before the fall semester begins.
About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 120,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $780 million and help drive the state’s economy.
About Compass Group USA
Based in Charlotte NC, Compass Group USA is the leading foodservice and support services company with $11 billion in revenues in 2011. With 470,000 associates worldwide, its parent company, UK-based Compass Group PLC had revenues of $22 billion in the year to September 30, 2011.