The University of New Orleans plans to outsource its building services work this fall, a cost-cutting measure that the cash-strapped Lakefront school expects will save more than $1 million in five years at the expense of nearly 80 workers whose jobs are thrown into question.
It’s the latest in a series of moves that UNO has taken in recent years to trim expenses after years of steep funding cuts and declining enrollment.
UNO spokesman Adam Norris said Wednesday that affected employees were notified about the possible change two weeks ago. The Building Services Department includes janitorial and grounds employees.
Norris said 66 classified employees, those covered by Civil Service, and 10 unclassified employees will be affected.
“The reason we’re doing this is to run the university more efficiently and yet do it in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of our academics or the quality of our student experience,” he said.
UNO officials haven’t decided yet who among the unclassified employees will be retained. It also hasn’t hired a contractor to take over the work.
UNO is expected to require the chosen company at least to interview the displaced employees, though there are no guarantees that they will be offered employment. “We’re hopeful, and we would expect, that many of those employees would be able to continue,” Norris said.
UNO has scheduled an Aug. 20 job fair on campus to help the affected employees find jobs, he said.
Norris pointed to the school’s bookstore as another example of a service that the school has outsourced in recent years.
As the school looks for ways to save money, the UNO faculty spent much of last year looking at ways to trim costs among its 80 degree programs, determining which areas should be shored up and which should be restructured or eliminated.
UNO President Peter Fos eventually recommended eliminating six academic programs, one department and 22 faculty and staff positions in a push to save $1 million this academic year and $2.8 million next year.
Since taking the helm in 2012, Fos has eliminated at least 140 positions.
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