On July 1, the University of Dallas transferred internal maintenance functions to WFF Facility Services. This change was implemented due to UD’s restructuring plan and will save $200,000, 30% of non-academic business operation costs. Negotiations with WFF began in March and the contract was signed in June.
The UD administration has developed specific contractual arrangements to help maintain staffing continuity. “As part of our negotiations with WFF, and this was part of our consideration of other proposals as well, we wanted to make sure that the employees and how they’re treated is a top priority,” President Jonathan Sanford said.
The administration also made special arrangements with WFF. Although employed by a third party, maintenance employees will be included in UD employee appreciation events. Staff will still wear UD branded clothing as well. “These staff will look and feel like University of Dallas employees,” Sanford said.
Nearly all original employees were offered positions with WFF and two-thirds of the staff transferred.
For those employees who were not offered positions or left on their own volition, Sanford said that “we treated them really well in terms of a severance package and help.”
Jeramy Franklin, campus grounds maintenance lead, was unhappy with some aspects of the transition. “It’s very different. It’s a whole new company and we have to transition how we operate,” Franklin said. “The workload is different from what [the employees are] used to.”
“You have to prove yourself to the new company about your skill sets. Instead of just placing you in a position, they have to recognize your talent,” Franklin said.
While some previous benefits are maintained in the new contract, other benefits are not. As is common with other companies, WFF allots employees paid time off, no longer distinguishing between sick and vacation time. Maintenance employees will have a different health insurance provider as well.
Tuition benefits are still extended to maintenance employees. “We hope the tuition benefit is a way of holding onto those employees for a long period of time,” Sanford said.
The process of change and adjustment will continue. Ground maintenance and housekeeping services had been previously outsourced to TechScape and Jesse’s Housekeeping. Those contracts have been terminated, allowing WFF to take over both grounds and housekeeping on August 1. With these additional functions under WFF’s control, new employees will be hired.
Whether they are new employees or old employees under a new contract, Sanford acknowledges their overall importance to the UD community. “We recognize that having employees who are happy at the University of Dallas is going to be key to our overall culture,” Sanford said.
Stefi Taliente, a senior business major, expressed similar sentiment. “All the maintenance workers that I’ve met have been really kind and always have a smile on their face,” she wrote in a message. “They’re a big reason why UD is a great school.”