Roosevelt @ UTK opposes Governor Haslam’s privatization plan

Roosevelters at the University of Tennessee Knoxville have allied with a host of on-campus groups to oppose Governor Bill Haslam’s privatization plan. The plan would outsource facility management at virtually all state-operated buildings including hospitals, prisons, start parks and National guard sites. Roosevelters are opposing not just the plan itself that could have calamitous repercussions, especially for on-campus employees, but, the process by which the plan is being carried out. While Governor Haslam’s administration insists the plan is simply at an information gathering stage, an implementation timeline with an October 1st start date has already been circulated. In the photo below, Governor Haslam denied knowledge of the plan itself.

Roosevelt @ University of Tennessee is pushing University President Joe DiPietro to oppose the plan at the University using the power of both online media and on the ground organizing. In addition to publishing a host of Op-eds in their campus paper and submitting a letter to the Board of Trustees (full text below), they are in the midst of #TNisnotforsale week of action. Check out the campaign, sign the online petition from United Campus Workers and reach out to your fellow Roosevelters here. Are you dealing with the issue of privatization on your campus? Let us know using #RooImpact

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Pictured above: Roosevelters Sawyer Smith and Hayley Brundige speak with Governor Bill Haslam on his privatization plan.

Full text of Letter:

To President Joe DiPietro and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees:

As students of the university and residents of this state, we are very concerned about Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed privatization plan, and we urge you to consider the items below as the university considers its relationship to the Governor’s plan:

Tennessee’s past outsourcing efforts have been unsuccessful. At UT specifically,outsourcing lowered both the quality of work and the treatment of workers significantly. In 2012, when UTK returned to insourcing custodial services, Dave Irvin said that “bringing these employees onto the UT payroll also provides them with better wages, benefits and continuing education opportunities.”

Tennesseans across the state have shown their opposition to this proposal. Disapproval from the Knoxville community has been very visible on UTK’s campus and at other colleges across the state. Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff have gathered to protest on multiple occasions.

There has been a lack of transparency in the entire process. Haslam has not included any legislators, students, citizens, or workers in the decision-making process. We believe that Tennesseans deserve a voice in determining the fate of state jobs. Analyses have shown that this proposal would save little or no money across the system, and would dramatically hurt workers who need health insurance, benefits, and stable jobs. The University of Tennessee — our students, faculty, staff — is one community, one family; there has to be a better way.

We recognize that the university, as the state’s flagship institution, is in a difficult position, but as students and concerned citizens, we urge you to lead the board in opting out of Governor Haslam’s privatization plan.

We would love the opportunity to continue this discussion with you in person.

UT Roosevelt Institute, Progressive Student Alliance, UTK College Democrats