To: Incoming UTK Chancellor Beverly Davenport, UT President Joe DiPietro, and the UT Board of Trustees
Opt out of outsourcing at UTK
By signing the petition below, tell UT President Joe DiPietro, incoming UTK Chancellor Beverly Davenport, and the UT Board of Trustees that you oppose Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to outsource state jobs. Outsourcing will lead to the poor treatment of campus workers, the elimination of crucial campus services, and insubstantial cost savings. UT-Knoxville should opt out of this plan.
Why is this important?
For more than a year, Governor Haslam has been pushing a plan that he devised -- without the input of Tennesseans or the oversight of the legislature -- to outsource the facilities management of public universities, state parks, prisons, and more. If implemented, this plan would dramatically change the way that UT and other universities across the state are run and impact the lives of thousands of state employees.
Tennessee has a concerning history with outsourcing. Deals with Jones Lang LaSalle, Enterprise, and other corporations have been steeped in controversy and have cost taxpayers millions of dollars under Gov. Haslam. And when custodial services at Tennessee Technological University were privatized, many campus workers were fired and those who kept their jobs saw their pay and benefits slashed. In the end, outsourcing at TTU didn’t lead to substantial cost savings -- and what they did save came directly at the expense of campus workers.
And we already know what outsourcing looks like at UTK. Our custodial services were outsourced until 2012, when administrators made the intentional decision to bring those services back in-house. Dave Irvin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services, said at the time that in-house services would lead to “increased service, better cleaning and more responsiveness to the needs of the university” and “better wages, benefits and continuing education opportunities” for employees.
It took us two years to transition out of this outsourcing on our campus. Why would we return to something proven to be the wrong choice for UTK now, just two years later?
If our facilities management is outsourced again, several vital campus programs and services could eliminated, including:
- Sustainability and recycling programs (including the public recycling drop-off)
- The turf management team for Neyland
- Master planning, which ensures we construct a cohesive campus environment
- The STAR group (Special Team to Assist Research), which helps recruit researchers to UT and support them while they’re here
- Priority HVAC upkeep for student housing, classrooms, and research facilities
- A 65 percent overall cut of the current supplies and operations budget for facilities services
Governor Haslam has claimed that individual schools, including UTK, will have the opportunity to opt out of this outsourcing plan next semester. With this petition, we appeal directly to UT President Joe DiPietro, incoming UTK Chancellor Beverly Davenport, and the UT Board of Trustees to listen to what students, campus workers, and community members are saying. Over the last year and a half thousands have protested, spoken out, written columns and passed SGA resolutions in opposition to this plan. We hope that this petition demonstrates what they have been saying all along: that Tennessee is not for sale.