News

UCW Members are invited to join "Labor & Black Struggle in the South," an urgent conversation about the role of Labor and the transformational possibilities of buildin

New report from United Campus Workers revealing low pay, lack of health insurance, particularly troubling in light of the COVID-19 crisis

 Johnson City, Tenn.

Since first learning of the previously secret push by Gov. Bill Haslam's administration to outsource the facilities maintenance, management, and security of every piece of state-owned real estate in Tennessee, United Campus Workers - CWA members, leaders, organizers, volunteers and our numerous allies have tirelessly worked to stop these efforts in their tracks. Below is a partial list of actions UCW-CWA has taken over this semester:

August 17: UCW issues Press Release, "State Workers Scrutinize, Worry About Haslam’s Newest Privatization Scheme"

August 18-20: Every regional paper of record across Tennessee learns of the news from United Campus Workers and begins reporting on it

August 31: 1st State-Wide Membership "Town Hall Call" with many hundreds of higher education employees logging in to learn more

September 3: Public Demonstration at UTK with rallies at Cumberland Ave. Pilot Gas Station & UT Knoxville School of Law Building

September 11: UTK action @ Student Union dedication ceremony

September 15: Press Release, "After Damning Revelations, Haslam Should End Outsourcing Push"

September 18: Memphis sign holding; Sierra Club quoted

September 22: Sign holding at Johnson City, press coverage

September 24: UTK action @ Presidential Court & Haslam Business Building, attracting students and community partners

October 6: UTK hosts Lawmaker Fact-Finding Tour, press coverage

October 9: UTK Sign Holding in Front of Board of Trustees Meeting at UTK, press coverage

October 20: Public Hearing Against Outsourcing in Spencer, TN, press coverage (Van Buren County; County Commission previously passed resolution on September 15)

October 26-31: Statewide Week of Action

Monday, October 26: 2nd Town Hall Call, press coverage

Tuesday, October 27: Phone In – Hosted by Progressive Student Alliance in Knoxville and Memphis

Wednesday, October 28: ETSU, Johnson City: Forum on Privatization, press coverage

Memphis: Employee Appreciation BBQ tabling, press coverage

Thursday, October 28: Prayer Vigil for Working Families, Memphis, TN, press coverage

Thursday, October 28: Press Release, "Outsourcing and the Threat to Tennessee’s Democracy & Economy"

Friday, October 30: Delegation to Governor’s office – delivered 6,368 petition signatures, delivered pamphlet "Outsourcing and the Threat to Tennessee" to legislators, press coverage

Saturday October 31: Jobs with Justice of East TN/JWJET Annual Meeting on privatization

October 30: Meeting with University of Memphis President

November 2: UTK Faculty Senate passes resolution on outsourcing

November 3: Tabling at UTM with Initiative for Civic Engagement

November 3: UTC hosts Lawmaker Fact-Finding Tour, press coverage

November 4: Rally in Memphis, press coverage

November 7: Sierra Club Conference writes 100+ letters against outsourcing

November 11: League of Women Voters of Knoxville/Knox Co hosts first in Privatization series, press coverage

November 16: Dyersburg State Community College Hosts Town Hall

November 17: UTK Student Government Association final approval of resolution opposing privatization

November 18: Rally in Memphis, press coverage

November 19: UTK workers tweet Kenny Chesney video asking for support

November 24: UT Martin Hosts Rally, press coverage

November 18: APSU Staff Senate passes resolution against Outsourcing, press coverage

November 30: League of Women Voters of Knoxville/Knox Co hosts second in Privatization series, on Open Government

December 3: UTK Member watchdogs at Higher Education Budget Hearing, Nashville; Deliver Haslam Scholars letter opposing outsourcing

December 7: Jackson Central Labor Council meets with Sen. Ed Jackson, discusses privatization and letter Sen. Jackson sent on the issue to Gov. Haslam

December 9: UCW Presentation on Outsourcing at APSU Staff Senate

December 10: Open Forum with Sen. Mark Green to discuss outsourcing at APSU

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

PRINT PRESS RELEASE

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.
 

###

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!