Governor Haslam holds a press conference announcing his Legislative Agenda for 2012, and introduces the TEAM Act which proposes an overhaul of Tennessee’s current Civil Service System.
Immediately after the press conference, TSEA President Phil Morson, Executive Director Robert O’Connell, and Government Affairs Director Sarah Adair meet with Governor Haslam and his staff and are given copies of the TEAM Act with an invitation to look over the proposal and plan to meet with the Governor’s staff again to work toward a bill both parties could support.
TSEA officially announces opposition to possible elimination of Civil Service rights, vows to give the bill a fair reading.
TSEA asks state employees to report on how Civil Service protections have helped them to provide quality services to the state.
TSEA issues press release announcing “serious concerns” with TEAM Act.
TSEA President Phil Morson, Executive Director Robert O’Connell, Government Affairs Director Sarah Adair and several TSEA staff members meets with Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey, Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter, and several other high-ranking members of Governor Haslam’s administration to discuss the Governor’s civil service bill in depth. Line-by-line TSEA outlines all concerns with the TEAM Act and proposes many important changes to the bill. The administrations states that they will consider the discussion and will return at a later date with what they have decided to change.
TSEA reports to state employees on progress of meeting with Governor’s administration and explains the best and worst parts of the new bill.
The State Budget for 2012-2013 is released and Governor Haslam holds his State of the State Address. Of the Governor’s two final promises made during the address, one is that “[his] administration will always work to get to the right answer, not just [their] own answer.”
TSEA issues press release complimenting the Governor for including a 2.5% raise for state employees as well as a salary study in his proposed budget. The willingness of the administration to hold discussions with TSEA regarding the TEAM Act is also acknowledged.
The Senate Government Operations Committee meets and discusses the TEAM Act – particularly, the dismantling of the Civil Service Commission and the new Board of Appeals that will replace the Commission. The administration presents an amendment to the Committee stating that the Governor will not fill the board seats with 7 new members all at once, and is committed to utilizing some of the existing commissioners to fill the slots. In addition, the Administration amends the bill at the request of TSEA to allow board members to only be removed “with cause”, as is the case with the present commission. With these commitments, the new Board and its functions are nearly the same as the existing Commission.
TSEA sends out communication to state employees explaining in detail many areas of the TEAM Act.
TSEA meets with Governor Haslam’s staff and representatives from DOHR a third time to receive the staff’s newly amended TEAM Act. The Administration provided their responses to suggestions and what changes they were willing to work through with TSEA. Unfortunately, the Administration did not return to that meeting including any significant changes. While they did agree to make a few of minor suggestions (ex. to keep a face-to-face, second level hearing during appeals and to include some definitions here and there throughout the bill) nearly all major points of contention remained. In fact, the Administration’s amended bill adds a few items that actually makes the bill worse, one being changing the burden of proof to the employee and another being no suspensions 5 days and under are appealable. TSEA is given until the following Monday to respond.
TSEA sends out a communication to state employees that recaps the meeting with the administration.
TSEA’s Board of Directors meets to discuss a plan of action for the TEAM Act.
TSEA sends out call to action alert to state employees urging them to call all members of both the House and Senate State and Local Government committees to urge committee members not to send the TEAM Act legislation out of their committee until TSEA’s amendments are heard.
TSEA meets a fourth time with the administration.
After four meetings between TSEA and the Governor’s administration, by decision of the TSEA Board of Directors it is determined that there are too many points of concern remaining in the bill to support it. It is TSEA’s opinion that the administration had missed the opportunity to continue to work with us on a bill that will appropriately protect state employees, and negotiations cease. TSEA explains that because the Administration continued to make changes that diminished the rights of state employees and seems to not be negotiating in good faith at this point, the Board has no choice but to end discussions.
TSEA sends out a communication to state employees announcing the results of the fourth meeting with the administration: that the administration has been unwilling to compromise on any of our core issues, making necessary TSEA’s opposition to the current version of the TEAM Act. Included in this communication is a thorough chart detailing changes proposed by TSEA and the Administration’s response, issue by issue, and a call to action urging calls to all members of the State and Local Government committees in both chambers.
TSEA issues press release announcing the end of TEAM Act discussions with the administration based on their unwillingness to compromise on the provisions in the bill that are the most harmful to state employees and to the people of Tennessee.
The House State & Local Government Subcommittee meets and devotes their entire meeting to discussing the TEAM Act without reviewing any of the major amendments. The Subcommittee votes to move the bill onto the full House State & Local Government Committee, circumventing the committee system without reviewing the bill properly, as per protocol.
The Subcommittee urges all parties to continue to negotiate on the bill so that all compromises can be heard in the full committee. Regardless of the failed sub-committee system in the House, in the end this gives TSEA adequate time to draft amendments to the provisions which we adamantly oppose. TSEA Government Affairs Director Sarah Adair continues to discuss our positions with the Administration, with help and encouragement of the members of the House State & Local Committee.
TSEA sends out a communication to state employees detailing the actions of the House sub-committee and continues to urge contact with all members of the State and Local Government committees in both chambers.
TSEA posts flyers to all state office bulletin boards in the downtown Nashville area about upcoming committee meetings urging (approved) attendance.
The Senate State & Local Government Committee meets to discuss the TEAM Act. The bill is rolled one week so that all amendments can be filed. There is no discussion about the bill. The chairman of the Committee indicates that he hopes to have a vote on the bill at the next meeting. Chairman Yager states the issue was too important to rush and insists that he will have a fair hearing of the bill with all amendments.
The House State & Local Government Committee meets to discuss the TEAM Act. The Governor’s amendment is discussed in length, section by section. However time runs out before the entire amendment is covered. Discussion will continue about the Governor’s amendment and on other amendments filed by TSEA at the next committee hearing. Chairman Ramsey assures that he will give ample time in the next meeting to present all of the amendments. A vote on the bill is anticipated at that time.
TSEA send out communication to state employees that recaps the outcome of both committee meetings.
TSEA sends urgent communication to all state employees asking everyone to contact the members of the committees to urge members to consider TSEA’s amendments.
The Senate State & Local Government Committee meets for a period of more than three hours, with amendments from both parties (the Governor’s administration and TSEA) covered in order of filing. The administration’s amendment rewrites the bill, including many items that TSEA has been negotiating on over the last several weeks. The committee votes 6-3 to pass the bill on to the Finance committee – without completely discussing all aspects of the bill. Only the amendments are discussed – not the full bill. This upsets many of the committee members.
Due to the length of the Senate committee, the House State & Local Government Committee runs out of time and rolls the bill one week after the Administration completes its testimony. Again, the chairman reminds the committee that the bill will be given time for a full discussion and testimony by TSEA in the next committee meeting.
TSEA issues press release announcing disappointment with the administration’s unwillingness to compromise, the partisan politics on display in the legislature, and the rush to pass a bill that has not been fully discussed.
TSEA issues call to action to all state employees to call their Senators and Representatives and ask them to oppose the bill in its current form.
The House State & Local Government Committee debates the bill, hearing testimony from TSEA. The bill is passed, as amended, 10-5 along party lines, with two representatives abstaining. All amendments presented by TSEA are voted down, including amendments to protect current RIF rights until the new Performance Evaluation system has been in place for a year. Also voted down is an amendment to ensure that the 2.5% Across-the-Board raise in the Governor’s budget this year is applied as a true across-the-board raise for employees, and does not exclude anyone for performance and discipline like last year’s 1.6% until the new Performance Evaluation system is in place.
TSEA issues press release stating that TSEA is disturbed by continued party line votes on the TEAM Act.
TSEA sends out video of legislators asking to hear from constituents about the TEAM Act. The communication details current status of TEAM Act and urges contacts with legislators continue.
TSEA reschedules April lobby day dates for March 27, plans state employee rally for same morning to coincide with important committee hearing.
TSEA begins extensive robo-call campaign, asking state employees to contact legislators about the TEAM Act.
The House Government Operations Committee discusses the Board of Appeals and rule-making aspects of the bill. It is quickly passed by a voice vote with only Rep. Mike Turner objecting to the bill and asking for his objection to be recorded. The bill is expected to be heard next in both the House and Senate Finance Committees.
TSEA sends out reminder about new lobby day.
The House Finance Subcommittee hears TSEA’s amendments to the TEAM Act introduced by Rep. Fitzhugh, but all are tabled by the committee without discussion. Once again, all votes are strictly along party lines, and with a vote of 8-6, the Subcommittee passes the TEAM Act along to the full House Finance Committee. There is an agreement that there will be a full discussion and debate on the bill in the full House Finance Committee. Subcommittee members of both political parties promise to continue to meet with the Administration asking for amendments to the bill before it is heard in full Finance. However, TSEA is again deeply disappointed that the bill moved forward in the committee system by partisan votes, especially on an issue that affects tens of thousands of state employees. The TEAM Act will be heard the next week in both the Senate and House Finance Committees.
TSEA publically announces rally to press and all state employees.
TSEA sends reminder about rally to state employees.
TSEA holds a rally at Tennessee tower at 9:00 am opposing the TEAM Act in its current form, 200 state employees attend. During the am rally, the TEAM Act is heard in the Senate Finance Committee with two amendments concerning the reclassification of direct patient care employees in mental health or developmental centers and a further clarification of the Veteran’s Preference amendment which had been added on in State & Local. Both are added to the bill before voting 7-3 to send the TEAM Act to the Senate Floor with very few modifications from Haslam’s original proposal and none of TSEA’s amendments heard. The TSEA Amendments were not presented because of the lack of commitment by the Senate Republican members to our issues. The Democrats on the committee knew they did not have the votes to pass any of the amendments.
The TEAM Act is also heard in the House Finance Committee in the afternoon. Rep. Craig Fitzhugh carries a number of TSEA’s amendments, but for a variety of reasons, only 2 of the 14 amendments are heard before the committee. The remaining 12 amendments are withdrawn for further negotiations. TSEA anticipates a compromise before the next meeting regarding the salary upgrades and the across-the-board raise along with a new provision that guarantees that TSEA and DOHR are a part of a working study group through the implementation of all these new policies. The amendment regarding the ‘study group’ is withdrawn reluctantly when the Administration objects because they say they had not yet seen the language and are uncomfortable agreeing to a provision that has not been reviewed. Many legislators on this committee ask TSEA to continue to work on the bill and try to reach an agreement by next week. In addition, because so many legislators express concern and disappointment by the lack of compromise, the Administration realizes that some changes to the bill will be necessary to move the bill out of full Finance.
TSEA sends communication to state employees to recap progress/status of committee meeting.
On the House Floor, Republican Caucus Leaders decide to “poll” all republican members on the TEAM Act. The poll indicates that House Republicans cannot support the bill without some further compromise and amendments.
TSEA President Phil Morson steps forward and makes a telephone call to Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey, initiating a final round of negotiations with the Administration. After the call, TSEA sends some suggestions to the deputy governor.
The Administration calls TSEA and asks for a meeting that day. Sarah Adair and Bob O’Connell meet with key Administration leaders to work on an agreement.
After an intense week of negotiations on a few final key provisions of the TEAM Act, TSEA and Governor Haslam agree in principle on a final version of the bill. The administration agrees to compromise on a number of TSEA’s key concerns (listed in this edition of the CoWorker) and in turn, TSEA is able to withdraw its opposition and accept the legislation in its new form. The announcement is made and discussed with Legislators, opening the way for both houses to work toward a resolution and passage in the remaining committees and subsequent floor votes.
TSEA issues press release to announce cooperation moving forward. The release details all of the administration’s compromises and improvements TSEA was able to negotiate into the bill.
The House Finance Committee votes to add TSEA’s amendments as agreed upon by the Governor’s administration and passes the TEAM Act in amended form onto the House floor by voice vote. The votes on the amendments and the bill are unanimous.
TSEA issues press release with statements from President and Executive Director regarding the agreement.
The House passes the TEAM Act by vote of 74-19, with one present but not voting on the bill.
The Senate moves to substitute and conform to the House version of the TEAM Act. The bill passed by vote of 30-3.
The TEAM Act is signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam at the Tennessee Tower Plaza (the same location as the TSEA rally) TSEA appears on stage with administration. Through a bipartisan effort in the legislature and through productive negotiations with the Governor’s administration, TSEA was able to help transform the original bill into a much better piece of legislation.
TSEA issues press release announcing signing, outlines TSEA Act implementation timeline.
Tennessee legislature sends budget to Governor Haslam – budget includes 2.5% raise for all state employees. New provision negotiated by TSEA during TEAM Act discussions ensures this is a true across-the-board raise not to be denied to any state employee.