Statehouse Democrats Planning ‘Fact-Finding’ Event on Privatization, Outsourcing at UT

Press release from the Democratic Caucus of the Tennessee Senate, Oct. 2, 2015:

Sen. Harris, Rep. Clemmons to discuss wage reductions, campus layoffs, and privatization plan for Tennesseee properties

NASHVILLE – State lawmakers will join the United Campus Workers, the Tennessee State Employees Association, UT College Democrats, Progressive Student Alliance and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) during a fact-finding trip to learn more about the potential impact of the Governor’s plan to possibly bring privatization to the campus of UT Knoxville.

Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris and state Rep. John Ray Clemmons will hear from campus employees, students and faculty about the potential impacts that layoffs and outsourcing will have on their families and campus life.

“Too often we operate in a bubble and over-rely on consultants,” Sen. Harris said. “We make decisions in Nashville without taking the time to listen to Tennesseans and try to understand the impacts on those Tennesseans. If we’re going to turn over taxpayer properties to private companies or even discuss the idea, the first order of business is to get out of Nashville and visit some of these properties and talk to the people who know a thing or two about what’s going on.”

“What happens in Nashville does not stay in Nashville,” Rep. Clemmons said. “The decisions made in the highest levels of state government are felt by families statewide, and we, as state lawmakers, have a responsibility to gather input from those who will be affected by these decisions. Sen. Harris and I will be directly engaging and listening to students, professors and state employees to learn more about the potential effects of privatization and what it means for Tennessee families. It is my hope that we can bring some accountability to a process where it is otherwise sorely lacking.”

Gov. Haslam has proposed a massive outsourcing of state government through a request for information that would lay off state employees in favor of corporate contractors. The plan includes state universities, in addition to state parks, corrections facilities and National Guard Armories.

The discussion will be held at 11:30 a.m. EST Tuesday, Oct. 6 at the Frieson Black Cultural Center at the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville.

Students, faculty and campus employees, in addition to media, are encouraged to attend.