U of C signs Xerox agreement

By ├ćndrew Rininsland

The University of Calgary’s Board of Governors voted in favour of the Xerox IMAGinE agreement last Friday. This decision allows the university to continue to pursue outsourcing of Printing Services to Xerox and eventually enter into a contract, which has Printing Services employees worried about their jobs.

The agreement involves several aspects, including the replacement of existing copiers and scanners, as well as the creation of a Strategic Information Management model, which allows documents to be created and organized electronically.

It’s believed the move will save the university $13.8 million dollars over the next seven years.

“A really good example would be creating a term paper,” said U of C chief information officer Harold Esche. “Right now, you create a term paper and you may or may not email it to your professor. A really interesting model is you create it electronically, you send it electronically, they mark it and give you feedback electronically and then you put it into some sort of portfolio of your work collected over the years that you’re at the university, and it may never actually get printed.”

One of the risks of the partnership is current employees could find themselves without a job under a new organizational model. This was the case when the university contracted out Food Services to Chartwells last year, a move which resulted in approximately 300 lost jobs.

On Wed., Feb. 8, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees held an information picket outside the administration building to protest the upcoming decision and raise awareness of the potential impact on university employees. While Esche admits there will probably be some changes to the current job profiles of the existing members of Printing Services, he’s adamant the transition will be as smooth as possible.

“There are 10 people in printing services, nine who are members of AUPE. Ten people are directly impacted, but that doesn’t mean they will lose their jobs,” said Esche. “It’s not about outsourcing in any way. We have a fairly creative strategy in managing the workforce with our blended-labour model, where, we assume, we have some University of Calgary employees working for this IMAGinE project. They will be members of AUPE working alongside with some people who are Xerox employees.”

However, Printing Services employee and AUPE Local 52 general council representative Ben Raymer believes the university is intentionally trying to move Printing Service employees to Xerox.

“My personal opinion is that the university is just trying to get rid of us,” said Raymer. “Their rhetoric and their tone has gotten more and more negative from meeting to meeting. They’re not offering options, but when we meet with Xerox’s human resources, they’re actually somewhat understanding of the situation and they’re very happy to do whatever to get us working for them, whereas the university is reluctant to keep us on.”

“The agreement was that it would be a hybrid where we have AUPE people under Xerox management. But the university is trying its hardest, or so it seems, to make it so that we don’t have to worry about that aspect and have everyone go to Xerox.”