- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee has entered into a five-year contract with real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle as part of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to outsource jobs on college campuses and other state-owned properties to the private sector, state officials announced Friday.

The contract that took effect Friday was signed despite concerns from the majority of state lawmakers about its impact on state jobs and the sheer scope of the outsourcing. Some workers rights’ advocates have also blasted the idea of privatizing services at the state’s public colleges and universities, arguing that it hurts workers.

The contract allows colleges and universities to outsource services; however, it’s unclear how many of them will participate.

The Chicago-based company already manages a number of state government buildings and provides services that include security, maintenance and grounds keeping. The company would be able to expand its services at state properties.

Haslam has consistently defended outsourcing, arguing it has saved the state millions of dollars. And state officials argue that the contract would help keep costs down.

“As we have consistently said, the contract will protect the livelihoods of current state facilities management employees, and is another tool for state departments and institutions to use to keep their expenses low, reducing the need for cost and tuition increases,” said David Roberson, a spokesman for the Department of General Services.

The company must retain all current state facilities employees, provided they pass a background check and drug test, Roberson said in the press release. The contract says employees who transition over to the private employer must receive compensation equitable to their current state package, JLL said in its own release.

The department expects interested universities to secure cost estimates from the company for their desired services before making decisions.

State lawmakers had tried to get the governor to delay signing the contract. Before the General Assembly adjourned earlier this month, 75 lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, sent a letter to Haslam asking that the outsourcing process wait until the Legislature could study and understand the effects it would have on public services, the economy and state workers.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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