This week, students, workers and organizers across the state are protesting the privatization of state jobs, unified under one slogan: #TNisnotforsale.
We at the Daily Beacon want to add our voice to this resistance.
Back in August, Gov. Bill Haslam announced that his administration was looking into a plan to privatize the management of state buildings, including hospitals, universities, state parks, prisons and more. While this was presented as a way to save money for the state, in reality, it represents a drastic overhaul at the expense of thousands of state workers.
When facilities management has been outsourced in the past, workers have faced slashed hours, the loss of benefits, impersonal treatment and termination with little notice. Whatever monetary benefit outsourcing provides for the state is not worth the further maltreatment of state workers.
At The Daily Beacon, we feel it is our responsibility to use our platform to stand up for UT campus workers. As tuition-paying students, we have the unique opportunity to speak out for workers who could lose their jobs or face retribution if they dissent. Campus workers are already fighting for a living wage, and now they fear losing their jobs entirely.
On a personal note, campus workers are some of the hardest working people we encounter on a regular basis. At midnight when we're finishing the last corrections on the newspaper before it goes to print,Hubert is cleaning up our coffee spills and asking us, “What's the news look like tomorrow?” They care about us as people, and the least we can do is stand up for them when their jobs are at stake.
Moreover, Gov. Haslam's actions go against our core principles as journalists. We expect our governor to be transparent when making such a far-reaching decision about our state. We expect him to be open with reporters when asked a direct question about his proposal. Instead, he has told reporters, “let's wait and see,” while a detailed timeline for the plan has been leaked to the public. And just a few weeks ago, state officials encouraged people working on the outsourcing “exploration” to cut down on sending emails with details of the plan, for fear that reporters will discover new information.
But we refuse to “wait and see.” It should be assumed that this process is subject to public scrutiny throughout. If we are as complacent as Haslam wants us to be, privatization will be implemented without any public input, and state workers could be fired with very little notice.
We hope that by using our voice as a student newspaper we can do our small part to prevent Haslam from proceeding with a plan that will hurt our state workers and local economies. If you want to do the same, call Haslam's office at (615) 253-7730 to tell the governor: "I am a Student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and I do not support the privatization of my university, and I do not support outsourcing workers' jobs. Tennessee is not for sale."
The views expressed in Daily Beacon editorials reflect the majority of opinion of The Beacon's editorial board and may be supposed to represent the opinion of The Daily Beacon at the time of publication. They are not necessarily representative of any individual member.
Bradi Musil, Managing Editor
Hayley Brundige, Multimedia Editor
Jenna Butz, Editor-in-Chief
Katrina Roberts, Creative Director
Hannah Moulton, Copy Chief
Kevin Ridder, Copy Chief
Troy Provost-Heron, Training Editor