- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MARTIN, Tenn. (AP) - Dozens of students and staff members from the University of Tennessee at Martin rallied on Tuesday in support of maintenance employees who could potentially lose their jobs.

Gov. Bill Haslam has said that no decision has been made on whether to pursue privatization of facilities management for state buildings and parks, the Jackson Sun reported (https://bit.ly/21eZD4n).

If such a proposal moves forward, universities under the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee systems could lose some staff positions.

UT Martin senior Amber Sherman said losing those staff members would mean losing a connection to the family culture.

“It’s people I know, who clean my room, who do my maintenance, who I talk to every single day,” Sherman said.

Randy Pigg, a university technician, said the students’ support for their staff meant a lot to the three-person electrical crew.

“They don’t want anybody else here. They want us here,” Pigg said.

Tim Nipp, director of the university’s physical plant, which houses all the electrical and maintenance crews, said employees are hoping against the privatization of the staff.

“Of course, I don’t want it to be outsourced. We enjoy working for the university and we take a lot of pride in what we do,” Nipp said.

Governor’s office spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said no decisions have been made regarding privatizing staff at universities in the state. Donnals said facility management efforts have saved approximately $12.9 million in the past two years and have improved maintenance by 10 percent.

“The state is exploring whether there are similar opportunities elsewhere in its real estate portfolio,” Donnals said. “No decision has been made, and there is no timeline for a decision from the governor’s office.”

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Information from: The Jackson Sun, https://www.jacksonsun.com


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