State employees protest privatization plans

State employees protest privatization plans
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - State employees protesting possible privatization plans took their concerns to the street Wednesday night.

"Tennessee is not for sale!" a crowd shouted along Union Avenue.

A number of UTHSC and other state employees demanded a "remedy" to Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to privatize many operations at state-owned buildings, college campuses, and other facilities.

"Outsourcing is not a good thing," UTHSC employee Santonio Patton said.  "And right now if they outsource us, they're taking all of our benefits away."

Employees said they were told they could re-apply if and when private companies take over.

Consultants claim it could save the state millions of dollars.

Unlike some co-workers, custodian Martha Macklin had no qualms about joining the protest.

"And we need our jobs and that's why we're standing out here today," Macklin said. "It's our jobs, our benefits, that we deserve and we work hard for."

Local lawmakers joined the fight.

"Every week I'm pulled to the side by state employees worried about the Governor's plan to outsource," State Senator Lee Harris tweeted. "It's terrible their careers are in limbo."

Win or lose, many said they will continue to make some noise.

Recent reports revealed a faster timeline for possible privatization, but the governor said any decision is months away.

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