In the summer of 2015, word came from Nashville that Gov. Bill Haslam favored a broad privatization effort that would take services traditionally performed by state employees and turn them over to private contractors. The governor's case goes like this: Outsourcing custodial and maintenance jobs at the state's public colleges and universities would save money, keep essential services and shrink the state's governmental footprint.
The governor's opponents say the savings estimates are too optimistic, that private companies offer no better service than state workers, and there's no guarantee the workers that lose their jobs could get them back under the new contractor.
A state park privatization plan is on hold. State Comptroller Justin Wilson questioned the practices used to privatize some state office buildings. And on college campuses, maintenance and custodial workers have lobbied to keep their current jobs. In response to concerns from higher education officials and supporters, Haslam said colleges and universities could opt out of the proposal, should it be adopted.
Tom Anderson is a past president and current member of the Campus Workers Association at the University of Tennessee. He spoke this week with WUOT Morning Edition host Victor Agreda. Anderson talks about previous outsourcing projects at UT and why CWA is skeptical of the opt-out clause.