SFU convocation mallSimon Fraser University (SFU) announced last week that the consulting firm Deloitte has been hired to conduct an analysis of in-house versus contracted-out cleaning and food services. While a review might be commendable, it still leaves the door open for contracted-out services—the wrong direction for the university, says CUPE 3338.

CUPE 3338 represents about 165 cleaning staff whose work at SFU is contracted out to a for-profit company.

“We are pleased to see that the organizing work of our members and our coalition partners has pushed SFU to take a step forward to address contracted-out services on campus,” said CUPE 3338 President Fiona Brady Lenfesty. “But as witnessed on other B.C. campuses, and with the significant recent announcement regarding contracted-out services in health care, the answer is already there: bringing work back in-house makes political and financial sense.”

Brady Lenfesty noted that other post-secondary institutions across B.C. have in-house food and custodial services—including the province’s largest university, UBC. And last week, the provincial government announced that the work of 4,000 health care workers will be brought back in-house, securing livable wages and working conditions for Hospital Employees’ Union members. These are comparable services across sectors, she said.

By bringing workers back in-house, SFU has an opportunity to improve quality of services and meaningfully improve the lives of some of the lowest-paid and underappreciated workers on campus. This would be consistent with SFU President Joy Johnson’s commitment to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, as most Local 3338 members working as custodial staff are racialized women.

“While we do not agree with the decision to utilize the expertise of a contracted-out accounting firm, we hope their analysis will take into account the benefits that work done in-house will bring to the campus community and to workers themselves,” said Brady Lenfesty. “SFU wants to be a leader with respect to progressive working conditions. The best way to do that is to recognize that these on-campus services are public services that should be delivered publicly. Contracting out and privatization negatively impact workers and the community that relies on the services workers provide.”