Reaction to UT outsourcing rejection: Haslam still supports concept as TSEA applauds

Press release statements following the University of Tennessee decision rejecting participation in outsourcing of facilities management services as proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam:

Gov. Bill Haslam: “Our goal from the beginning has been to equip our higher education institutions with a tool they can use to better manage increasing budgetary needs, both now and into the future.  By establishing a statewide contract to provide facilities management services, we successfully created that tool.  Using the expertise of the private sector is not a new concept to the state; outsourcing has been used to supply a variety of quality services for many years.  This most recent professional contract is no different and it’s already proven to provide excellent service at a low cost to taxpayers.  We continue to support this concept and look forward to seeing how these universities work to keep tuition and other fees low for our students and families.”

News release from Tennessee State Employees Association

NASHVILLE – TSEA applauds the decision by the University of Tennessee’s four campuses to opt out of the facilities management contract with Jones Lang Lasalle.

According to statements recently released by each of the four campuses within the University of Tennessee system, each college plans to announce Friday, Nov. 3, at the UT Board of Trustees meeting their decision to opt out of the facilities management outsourcing plan proposed by Jones Lang Lasalle.

“This is great news for the state employees who work in the UT system, especially as we begin the holiday season,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said. “This entire outsourcing process has caused a great deal of anxiety for higher education state employees who have faced the possibility of changing employers, changing insurance plans, losing benefits, potential job relocations, and an unknown future once the dust settles.  The cost savings just aren’t significant enough to justify the associated risks. We applaud the many campus staff who invested countless hours of work studying and evaluating the outsourcing plan.”

TSEA during the 2017 legislative session introduced legislation, HB944/SB1047, sponsored by Rep. Tilman Goins and Sen. Janice Bowling, to bring oversight, legislative involvement, and transparency to the way Tennessee contracts for goods and services. While the bill did not pass in 2017, the legislature deemed the bill to have merit and sent it to summer study for further discussion.

After two summer study hearings on the bill, Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Briggs in his closing comments said, “We really would like the state to prove when we go to outsource something that it’s not a job that could be done by state employees.” Chairman Briggs continued, “if all of those things are equal, we’re going to give the benefit of the doubt to the people that work for us already.”

TSEA will continue to work with members of the legislature to get this vital piece of legislation passed in 2018.

State Finance Commissioner Larry Martin: “President DiPietro has been very open and helpful as we have considered the merits of Facilities Management Outsourcing on the various University of Tennessee campuses. This administration fully believes there are significant cost savings to be gained through our contract with JLL for facilities management, particularly on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus. Nonetheless, and even as obvious as the savings are to us, we respect the independent decision each campus has made or will make in the coming days. It is equally appropriate and right for the administration to review and understand the analyses on which each of the universities respective decisions are being made. Our initial review has raised several questions that we look forward to discussing with the appropriate people.”

State Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville: “I was proud to work with the employees at the University of Tennessee to fight the possibility of outsourcing.  After numerous discussions with stakeholders and town hall meetings, I agreed that it would not be good for the community or the University.  I am glad that Chancellor Davenport reached the same decision.  This is an excellent day for our city and our University.”

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