PRESS RELEASE: Haslam's State of the State Address Moves Full Speed Ahead to Leave Many In the Dust

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