A crowd of more than 150 people gathered in front of the College of Law building to rally against outsourcing Tennessee jobs on Sept. 3.
UT faculty, staff and students stood on the sidewalk in front of the building from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., holding signs reading “Put people over profit,” “We support ALL state employees” and most commonly, “TN is NOT for sale.”
The rally was organized by the United Campus Workers (UCW), the union for UT staff and faculty. UCW has been running a campaign called, “Tennessee is not for sale” that surrounds speaking out against Governor Haslam’s plan to begin outsourcing management and maintenance facilities throughout the state to a private company.
Josh Smyser, a worker in Facility Services and UCW member, said the organization was tipped off that the state had been filing requests for information to companies in order for them to send in information about themselves. Smyser said this was to begin bidding on contracts.
“Once we found that out, through some digging we found about some scandals that happened in 2013,” Smyser said. “We found out that this has happened before in Tennessee and they were trying to do it now.”
Smyser said about 1000 people would be directly affected on Knoxville’s campus alone. Smyser said he thinks people understand very clearly about the negative impact of potential privatization.
“I think people will show up,” Smyser said. “Even if they don’t show up today, they’re definitely paying attention.”
Michelle Christian, assistant professor in the department of sociology, said she joined the protest to show support for everyone who works at UT.
“When one of us is under threat, we’re all under threat,” Christian said. “I think it’s very important to show how much we value all of the staff that makes our lives function every single day.”
The protest had another location, as well. Starting at the same time, a rally consisting of nearly 100 UT students and staff was held in front of the Pilot service station on Cumberland Avenue.
Feature image by Courtney Anderson
Edited by Jessica Carr
News editor, Courtney Anderson, has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. From scribbling short stories on the back of pamphlets to excelling in Advanced Placement English courses in high school, Anderson has always been determined to make a career out of writing. Anderson joined TNJN as a freshman and instantly fell in love with online news. She hopes to become an editor for a major online news source one day.