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Fine arts custodian one of 94 staff members whose jobs could be outsourced

Kristina Abeyta

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Robert Entrekin, custodian, talks with a news reporter while he vacuums a lecture room in the C wing of the Fain Fine Arts building, Monday, April 27, 2015. "i don't see it being a plus for the employees. We get an hour and a half 3 times a week in the wellness center, we get our birthdays off, and we have 15 days. You can bet your lucky dime that all that's gone if we sign with the private company. I can't see the employees benefit from all this, but we are the last ones to be considered," says Entrekin. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Robert Entrekin, custodian, talks with a Wichitan reporter while he vacuums a lecture room in the C wing of the Fain Fine Arts building, April 27. “I don’t see it being a plus for the employees. We get an hour and a half three times a week in the wellness center. We get our birthdays off. We have 15 days of vacation. You can bet your lucky dime that all that’s gone if we sign with the private company. I can’t see the employees benefit from all this, but we are the last ones to be considered,” Entrekin said. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Throughout the C-wing of the Fain Fine Arts Center, Robert Entrekin, facilities services custodian, can be seen up and down the halls, maintaining the building. He rides a motorcycle as often as he can get, and once the weather settles, he’ll be on it again. He watches golf for leisure and spends time with his family, though he might not remember all of their birthdays.

“We grandpas and dads don’t keep track of that kind of stuff,” Entrekin said. “My wife knows every birthday of every one of our grandchildren, of every one of our great grandchildren, all of our kids. How she does that, I don’t know. Best I can figure, I’ve got 19 – 20 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.”

On his 66th birthday last week, Entrekin got the entire Friday off to do as he pleased due to the benefits provided by the university. But a looming possibility of the university bringing in a private company to outsource facilities positions could change that.

“They’ve still got their feet hanging over the pool, just testing the water,” Entrekin said. “But if it’s a done deal and it goes into contract it means loss of benefits for the employees.”

Entrekin has worked at MSU for the past five years.

“I enjoy what I do here, and the young people,” Entrekin said. “I enjoy looking at their ideas, seeing them come to life, and watching them graduate.”

But working at MSU is more of a choice for Entrekin who got resounding applause after speaking at a meeting of staff members with senior administrators and consultants April 27.

“Don’t get me wrong, I spend my money just like everyone else does, but if I’m not at MSU tomorrow, it’s not going to crush my world,” Entrekin said. “I feel for the employees that have to have this job. It’s not a very lucrative job as it is, when you look at the pay scale. The benefits are what make it what it is. And I can promise you, that private entity will not match the benefits this college gives us.”

According to Entrekin, facility employees get half an hour, three times a week for wellness.

“Almost a day’s work so that we can stay in shape to do our job, which benefits the university as well,” Entrekin said. “But you can bet that’s gone with a private company, it’s not going to happen.”

Not just for wellness, the workers enjoy a pass time known as the Summer Sizzler. For 15 days in the summer, facilities services employees get a break provided with a treat, to go along with the heat.

“We have a soda pop, ice cream, sometimes donuts,” Entrekin said. “The company doesn’t dock us for it. They allow us at least 30 minutes to go there. That’s seven and a half hours, that’s another day’s work.”

Entrekin said the facilities staff were off for 15 days this past Christmas. He spent his break relaxing and watching golf. Golf is his favorite sport.

“I mostly play at River Creek, because I don’t have time to go anywhere else,” Entrekin said. “That’s where my friends play, that’s why I play. We used to go all over – to Texhoma, Turtle Creek, Oklahoma, Archer City, and Comanche.”

But in the event the private company comes into contract with the university, that 15 day paid vacation will be merely a wish on Santa’s List.

“You can bet your last dime that’s gone,” Entrekin said. “Maybe we might get, if we are extremely lucky, half a day Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The new company coming in can’t afford to give us two weeks. And it was generous of the college to do it, so let’s enjoy it while we had it.”

Entrekin said the facilities staff have had it pretty good working at the university in regard to the benefits that come with the job.

“You know, my insurance is paid for,” Entrekin said. “That private company is not going to pay for my insurance. They might have a co-pay. They also talked about salaries, that there would be increases. Well it will knock me off my feet if that increase is more that 10 percent. That’s not going to make up for what it is going to cost me in insurance. So what raise did I get? But that’s the game, that’s the dollar game.”

But, he said if the university is in trouble financially, someone has to pay the price.

“The main thing is that we provide an education for these students, whatever that takes,” Entrekin said. “And if that is necessary, it’s necessary. I don’t crunch the beans, I don’t count them. But I do know that our main concern is the young people. You need an education. If that’s what it takes, to have to go to a private contractor, than that’s what you do.”

But Entrekin likes working at MSU, he said the university has been good to him, and good to a lot of folks.

“I hope that we have the insight to keep that in mind when the changes do come down,” Entrekin said. “But trust me, there are going to be some. And there will be a lot more bad ones than good ones. You can bet on it, I mean from our stand point. But we are not the only ones involved, that company is involved too. And obviously they have to make money. Somebody has got to suffer, and when you have 20 people invited to the party and only ten slices of cake, guess what, only half of them are going to get a piece.”

Related: Administrators consider outsourcing maintenance 

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About the Photographer
Rachel Johnson, Photo Journalist

Rachel Johnson is a photographer for The Wichitan. Rachel is in her fourth year in mass communication with a minor in broadcasting. She started getting...

1 Comment

One Response to “Fine arts custodian one of 94 staff members whose jobs could be outsourced”

  1. George Emmert on April 29th, 2015 6:59 am

    All about more for the elite and less for the working class.

    Look at the facts, look at your income… then think about what lays ahead for you, your family, the city, state and nation. No water…No money… No jobs… Businesses leaving or laying off.
    Vote “No” to “BOND AND BUILDING” or whatever WFISD wants to call it.

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Fine arts custodian one of 94 staff members whose jobs could be outsourced