The more things change, the more they stay the same. It has been nine and a half months since the College announced, somewhat unexpectedly, its intention to outsource the Kenyon’s maintenance management to Sodexo. This week, though, the administration signed off on the Middle Path Partnership, a proposal drafted by a coalition of maintenance managers and union representatives that extends collective bargaining for three more years and utilizes new management software, but nixes scheduled pay increases and brings in an outside firm to oversee the department’s managers and three non-union staff members. Clearly both sides made concessions, but the community’s outrage with the Sodexo plan certainly put the administration on the defensive.
The Partnership is a competitive financial alternative to the Sodexo proposal, and will make similar cuts to the $9.1 million maintenance operating budget. Despite the negative stigma surrounding outsourcing, there will be advantages for all parties in partially embracing it. This Partnership will improve maintenance efficiency, increase resources and close the technology gap. What’s more, it is a good first step toward healing the wounds of long-fought battle between the maintenance department and the College.
Though MMAP made sure not to recommend the partnership model for other negotiations, we believe its application in this situation makes sense. The Partnership succeeded in prodding the maintenance department to acknowledge and rectify flaws in its operations. In turn, it marks a conciliatory move by administrators humbled by the ire of the community. We are encouraged by this compromise, and think it heralds a promising future for College business.