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As Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris brought renewed attention to the low wages of campus workers on July 8,, President Rudd finally released a gradual timeline announcing that he plans to raise minim

United Campus Workers supports candidates who stand for the working class and the common good by opposing privatization, supporting public education, and fighting for living wages.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, we're taking our message direct to the Governor's office at the State Capitol in Nashville. Request a day of annual leave now, and make plans to join us! Already some five-thousand Tennesseans have signed petitions calling on Gov. Haslam to cease his efforts to sell out our state. We will be delivering those signed petitions and sharing testimonials from state residents. #TNisNOTforSale! If you are interested in attending this important day of action next Friday, October 30, please complete the RSVP form here, and ride the bus! Here is a flyer you can print to spread the word.

PLEASE READ/WATCH AND SHARE THIS STORY from Nashville's NewsChannel 5 about the outsourcing: http://www.scrippsmedia.com/newschannel5/news/newschannel-5-investigates/questions-of-influence/Internal-Data-Fails-To-Justify-States-Outsourcing-Plan-327516951.html
Here is a page with frequent updates: https://www.facebook.com/TNisNOTforsale
Here are links to reports on outsourcing: http://ucw-cwa.org/outsourcing-resources

In the meantime:
Call the Governor at 615-741-2001
Call your legislators (put in your address to find them, then click on their photo to find their info)
Here is the Governor's Request For Information
Sign and share the petition
Here is the hard copy petition to print and get signatures on
Here is a flyer about this
Join the union and get your coworker to join - fight and stay in this fight
Check out the Tennessee is NOT for sale Facebook page

While Haslam has repeatedly urged critics of his plan to remain calm and denied any decisions have been made, WSMV Channel 5 News in Nashville discovered a pre-existing, accelerated timetable for implementation of the expected contract. Haslam evidently wants to have completed the outsourcing scheme as soon as summer of 2016.

“It looks like his mind was made up all along to sell our jobs and our public services to the lowest bidding corporation as fast as he could,” said Tom Anderson, a purchaser in UT’s Facilities Services department and whose job is part of the purview of Haslam’s effort.

United Campus Workers, the union of employees who work on Tennessee’s higher education campuses, exposed the Haslam plan to the media after a Request for Information (RFI) was released on August 11. Prior to that, there had been no public knowledge, input, or oversight of the program, which if implemented would represent the most significant reorganization of state services in decades. As the story broke, it was revealed Haslam was giving personally guided tours of state parks—which he is also attempting to privatize—to interested corporations.

Demonstrators hope to call attention to Haslam’s potential personal stake in outsourcing by locating part of their protest in front of Pilot Gas Station, the Haslam family business. Indeed two years ago, Haslam was embroiled in a scandal for his previous outsourcing push in state buildings when a no-bid contract was awarded to multinational giant JLL, in which the Governor was personally invested. Haslam is the country’s wealthiest elected politician.

“And we’re the ones who are going to lose if this happens,” worried Josh Smyser, a custodian at the university and a member of the Employees Relations Council there. “I could lose my pay, my benefits, everything, all so that some major corporation can make a profit at the taxpayer’s expense.”

Haslam, whose personal fortune tops one billion dollars, has cited his previous outsourcing efforts’ success in generating savings of some $5 million a year, but those savings average to roughly $0.75 per Tennessean—who pay the highest sales tax, including on food, in the country in a state where business taxes are among the nation’s lowest—all at the expense of people’s jobs and livelihoods.

Elizabeth Owen, a clerical worker at UT and vice-president of UCW’s Knoxville chapter, wondered: “When’s it going to stop? This is a race to the bottom for workers, all while the people on top—folks like Haslam—continue to make more money than they have ever before in history. These are our lives we’re talking about.” ###

For more information:
Tom Anderson, 865-934-7373 | Josh Smyser, 865-964-2996
Cassie Watters, UCW organizer, 617-304-1108

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IB ImageState Workers Scrutinize, Worry About Haslam’s Newest Privatization Scheme Nashville—Just two years after embroiling itself in a multi-million dollar privatization scandal with property management corporation Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the Haslam Administration has unveiled a new initiative to privatize all state building management services. On Monday, the Governor’s office issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the “purpose of identifying vendors with the capacity and experience to provide outsourced facilities management services to the state.” The dizzying scope of the RFI threatens to affect public services and tens of thousands of jobs across every county in Tennessee.

While Haslam states his intention is to improve efficiency in management and “realize savings,” questions about outsourcing’s efficacy and where those savings would come from, and memories of the JLL profitmaking fiasco cast serious doubts over the plan.

Indeed in 2013, in an effort to reduce facilities costs, the Haslam administration granted a no bid, $1 million contract to the multinational property management firm JLL, in which the Governor was personally invested. That contract swelled to $10.7 million as the firm profited from its own recommendations, fleecing Tennessee taxpayers until a scathing audit revealed the scheme and the legislature intervened. Fortune Magazine ranks Tennessee as the third most corrupt state in the union. Governor Haslam is the richest elected official in the country.

Now the Governor is moving once again to privatize facilities management claiming “to reduce operating costs”—most likely through reduction in personnel, pay, and benefits for working Tennesseans.

“The RFI’s scope includes every person, and every job, for every building everywhere. Haslam wants to outsource our safety, health, and education to some for-profit, out-of-state company. All of the maintenance, all of the purchasing, all of the utilities, all of the human resources, all of the security, all of the cleaning, all of the administrative work in our schools, our courtrooms, our service agencies. It will hurt everyone,” said Tom Anderson, a purchaser in Facilities at the University of Tennessee, who stands to be affected by the proposition.

Outsourcing has already proven to result in the decimation of benefits and pay for workers, and a sharp decline in the quality of services provided, including in some of the very public facilities that Haslam is pushing to privatize again. At the University of Tennessee—Knoxville, a contract outsourcing custodial services in Facilities was terminated and workers were brought back in house due to the company’s failure to deliver on all metrics. Outsourced workers were paid significantly less than other UT workers, had no benefits, were subject to arbitrary cuts in hours and experienced high turnover as a consequence. Cost savings were minimal as overages and hidden fees added up.

“It was horrible. It was bad for employees, students, the university, and the public,” remembers Anderson.

Heather Wilson, a custodian at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, is another worker who would stand to lose. “This directly affects me, my family, my friends and coworkers and my community by putting many of us out of work and without medical coverage,” she said.

For more information: Diana Moyer, President of UCW: [email protected]; 865-300-4297 Thomas Walker, Press Coordinator for UCW: [email protected]; 865-776-3094 !

United Campus Workers in Knoxville invites you & yours to a BACK TO SCHOOL COOKOUT!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 29
11am - 3pm
Ashley Nicole Dream Playground
Caswell Park, 620 Winona St in Knoxville
(Where this year's May Day picnic happened)

Main dish provided, Bring a side or dessert to share
Bouncy House & Family Fun!

Spread the word! B&W Flyer, Color Flyer
Facebook event page
For more information, contact Cassie: cassie @ ucw-cwa.org, or 865-329-0085.

Nashville needs to hear from all of us. Our legislators and Bill Haslam need to hear from you! Join us March 17 for our union's annual Lobby Day: 
http://www.ucw-cwa.org/content/rsvp-ucws-2015-lobby-day-march-17-nashville

Buses leaving from Memphis and Knoxville, Knoxville bus stopping in Cookeville.

Don't know who your elected officials are? Find them here. Scroll down for your State Legislators (State Senator and Representative), who we are visiting on March 17.

UCW Priority Bills: http://ucw-cwa.org/2015-ucw-priority-bills

#March17 #UCWinNashville #ListenUpLegislature #BenefitsMatter #RaiseTheWage #OrganizeTheSouth

Check us out last year: http://www.ucw-cwa.org/story/movement-put-people-first

While the Governor, who was recently named the country’s richest politician, bragged about Tennessee’s designation as “State of the Year” in economic development and job creation, he failed to mention that in the same period it also became the state with the highest rate of minimum wage jobs in the country. Many of these added jobs are only temporary and lack benefits.

“We need an economy that puts the people of Tennessee first, and that includes jobs that pay a living wage and have good benefits, not low wage jobs with no stability,” said Susan Williams, department secretary at the University of Tennessee Knoxville/UTK.

The Governor’s speech included proposed changes to benefits for many state workers, including the longevity bonus which compensates loyal public servants based on years of service. Though it does not yet include higher education employees, many are still concerned that the cuts won't stop there. “I have serious concerns about Haslam’s proposal to eliminate the longevity bonus, folding half of it into base pay and using the rest for merit raises,” said Tom Anderson, a Facilities Services employee at UTK. “I’ve come to expect and rely on that benefit and not for vacations and fluff. Over the years it has paid for doctor and dentists visits, and car and home repairs that would otherwise have been impossible for me to afford. That it’s being gutted is very alarming.”

Proposals to expand access to higher education for Tennesseans were meanwhile applauded, though questions about implementation remain unanswered.

“Like Governor Haslam, we believe that education is key both to economic development and to a functioning democracy. We also think everyone in our state should be able to go to college for free,” said Gabe Crowell, Adjunct, Pellissippi and Roane State Community Colleges." Adequate funding is crucial to achieve these goals. Increasingly, Tennessee relies on low-wage jobs in our public higher education system. We’ve got people on campuses making poverty wages, including folks teaching our students. That’s got to change, and the Governor can change it.”


We invite media to https://www.facebook.com/unitedcampusworkers, where campus workers will be posting what their longevity pay means to them with #HandsOffMyLongevity.
 

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Members available to be interviewed - For more information, please contact:

Cassie Watters, United Campus Workers, 877-292-3865

At the moment we in higher education may be spared from this attack. But what is more true than ever? What our members on campuses across Tennessee have been saying all along: We need secure jobs that pay living wages with the benefits we have earned through years of loyal service! Hands off our earned benefits!

We also know from past experience that the budget process is fluid. We've seen horrible things happen during the session, like when last year's promises of raises and the funding earned by our campuses were both yanked back by Gov. Haslam. We know that when wealthy politicians go after benefits for some (like new employees' pension no longer being a fully guaranteed benefit), they will continue to cut! This has been the dominant agenda in Nashville over the past several years.

But we have a different agenda, and that agenda can win if we use our collective voice. Here's what we must do:

  • 1) Organize, organize, organize. Now is the time to ask your coworkers to join our union. Talk to them about the power it takes to speak against these attacks, and why having a voice that belongs to higher education employees that advocates for higher education employees is so essential.
  • 2) Show up in force on TUESDAY, MARCH 17 at United Campus Workers' Lobby Day at the Capitol in Nashville. Reserve your spot on the bus today. Let's tell them: Living Wage Jobs, Public Education, and Democracy for Tennessee! Hands off our longevity! #PeopleFirstBudget #handsOFFmylongevity

Not a member?

United Campus Workers is Tennessee's higher education union; the only voice made up and run by staff and faculty at Tennessee's colleges and universities. UCW members are actively organizing for our interests on our campuses and at the Tennessee General Assembly.

JOIN US and help strengthen our movement! There is power in numbers, lift your voice today!

SPREAD THE WORD about UCW-CWA to your friends and coworkers!

Click HERE to become a fan of us on Facebook!

January 8, 2015

KNOXVILLE - United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 3865, Tennessee's public higher education union, welcomes President Obama and Vice President Biden's upcoming visit to East Tennessee, and applauds their support for higher education. Every year, we demonstrate to Governor Haslam and the General Assembly that higher education institutions are key economic drivers, and campus employees - from professors and adjuncts, secretaries and custodians, to researchers and counselors - are at the forefront of delivering quality education and essential services to Tennesseans.

 

Initiatives such as the Drive to 55 and the Tennessee Promise are receiving much attention. What is not receiving attention is the fact that no public policy solution can succeed without publicly financed support. Sweeping public policy initiatives require a strong commitment to public financing. Governor Haslam's higher education initiatives have included zero funding other than to offset student costs. This is not sufficient to support community colleges and technical centers around the state in facing the challenge of thousands of new enrollees in 2015. What's more, despite a rhetorical emphasis on education, funding earned under the new formula as well as pay raises for higher education employees and teachers were the first items the governor cut from the budget. He has broken the promises he made during the 2014 State of the State to make higher education his "top priority," and to make Tennessee a national leader in increasing educator salaries.

 

Since 2008, politicians at the state capitol have made $200 million in cuts to higher education, which have raised tuition for students and slashed wages for campus workers. They locked in these cuts and tied future funding to poor metrics of educational achievement through the 2010 Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA). This creates a zero-sum game, in which institutions essentially compete with one another for the same funding. Despite misgivings, students and educators rose to the challenge and met many of the new criteria. Instead of being rewarded for these achievements, Governor Haslam slashed higher education again in his 2015 budget.

 

Our state needs a fully funded higher education system, with a workforce of educators and support staff who are competitively and fairly compensated. Campus workers desperately need a living wage. With no new funding for higher education, and no public funding attached to these public policy initiatives, we can expect continuing poverty wages and an increase in temporary, benefit-free jobs such as adjuncts and outsourced custodians and other support staff.

 

United Campus Workers has an alternative to Haslam's unsustainable model for Tennessee higher education. Governor Haslam needs to put the people first. Our state needs living wage jobs, high-quality, public education, affordable health care, and respect for our democratic rights to vote, organize, and exercise our constitutional freedoms. Our working conditions are our students' learning conditions.
 

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Members available to be interviewed - For more information, please contact:

Cassie Watters, United Campus Workers, 877-292-3865