Higher Education

The TSEA is the only organization that by law represents Higher Education employees on campus. TSEA is the only organization recognized on every campus across the state. And, TSEA is the only organization that has ever helped advance and pass legislation specific to Higher Ed employees’ pay, employee rights and benefits!

Here are some of the areas where TSEA works for you every day:

• Advocacy — We monitor legislation in the General Assembly to protect your salary, earned benefits, and general welfare in the workplace.

• Fair Compensation — We work with the governor, legislators, and appropriate boards and commissions to make competitive compensation a priority.

• Protection — We specialize in state employee issues and concerns and help safeguard your rights on the job.

• Guidance — We provide personalized advice during reductions-in-force, reclassifications, budget cuts, and retirement assistance at no additional cost.

• Knowledge — Our members can access informative publications, special mailings, local chapter meetings, and emails that focus exclusively on state employee issues and concerns.

• Unity — We bring state employees together in a statewide association of 47 chapters, including two Higher Education-specific chapters, and we offer continuing

• Special Perks — We offer member benefits such as quality supplementary insurance plans at reasonable rates and purchasing discounts. Many voluntary benefits are now available to Higher Ed members through bank draft.

Our achievements include:

  • Daily presence during the legislative session to support and help advance funding for across-the-board pay increases
  • The requirement that all Higher Ed employees are included in the law providing health insurance to employees and family
  • Secured Longevity for Higher Ed Employees
  • Established the 40l(k) match and ensuing increases for all Higher Ed Employees
  • Established Grievance procedures across UT and TBR systems for support staff
  • Established the Sick Leave Bank Secured Bereavement Leave
  • Worked with TBR institutions to provide advance notice for a reduction-in-force

TSEA supports Higher Education

Founded in 1974 by state employees, The Tennessee State Employees Association (TSEA) was created to ensure protection, advocacy, and representation for employees of the State of Tennessee. The association actively lobbies the Tennessee state legislature on behalf of all Higher Education employees. TSEA maintains a permanent seat on the state insurance committee, represented by a spokesperson for state and higher education employees.

TSEA’s recent initiatives include promoting legislation that requires state government agencies and departments to inform legislators about proposed contracts for outsourcing facilities management services within their districts. This legislation enables local legislators to be involved before final decisions on outsourcing are made.

In 2018, TSEA’s legislative agenda featured the Contract Accountability and Responsible Employment (CARE) Act. This act, which passed unanimously and was signed into law, mandates that if a service contract between a state agency and a private entity exceeds $2.5 million and leads to furloughs or layoffs of state employees, the agency must submit an economic impact statement (EIS) to the fiscal review committee.

TSEA’s other achievements for Higher Education include:

  • Supporting standard across-the-board pay increases for all employees at individual higher education campuses.
    Mandating longevity for higher education employees (TCA 8-23-206).
  • Establishing a 401(K) match and ensuring all subsequent increases in the match benefit all higher education employees (TCA 8-25-301).
  • Facilitating the establishment of grievance procedures across the UT and TBR system for support staff (TCA 49-8-117).
  • Promoting legislation requiring each institution governed by the board of regents, a state university board, or the board of trustees for the University of Tennessee to publish its support staff grievance procedures online.
  • Ensuring all higher education employees are included in the law providing health insurance for employees and their families (TCA 8-27-201), with the state covering 80% of premiums and employees 20%.
  • Extending post-retirement insurance to all higher education employees with at least 10 years of service (TCA 8-27-205), applicable to those hired before 2015.
  • Guaranteeing access for retired higher education employees to the state-provided Medicare supplement (TCA 8-27-205), also applicable to employees hired before 2015.
  • Securing three days of paid bereavement leave for employees in the event of the death of immediate family members (TCA 8-50-113).
  • Establishing a sick leave bank for faculty and non-faculty employees within the state university and community college system of Tennessee, and any of the University of Tennessee branches (TCA 8-50-925, 8-50-926).
  • Requiring a minimum of 90 days notice at TBR institutions for Higher Education employees prior to a reduction-in-force.
  • Helped change law to allow part-time employees to take retirement distributions during reemployment. (TCA 8-25-213)
  • Fought to keep Retiree Health Insurance for employees hired before July 1, 2015.

Higher Education Member Services Include:

  • Representation in grievance procedures.
  • Guidance and counseling on TCRS and retirement.
  • Guidance and counseling on health insurance.
  • Representation and advocacy at the legislature.
  • Up-to-date information on the issues and concerns impacting you.
  • Opportunities to participate at the local and statewide level.
  • Opportunities to network with peers across the state.
  • Access to member-only advantage program discounts on movie tickets, sporting events, zoos, museums, theme parks, and much more.
  • Access to member-only voluntary insurance products.

Not a member? Come be a part of one of the largest independent state employee associations in America!

Some Important Definitions

Higher Education Membership: Any eligible higher education state employee of the State of Tennessee; such member to be considered a “regular” member

Higher Education Participation: Higher education state employee members shall be eligible to participate in association activities and shall have the same rights and privileges as regular members as applicable to their employment.

Higher Education & Chapter Membership: Any higher education state employee member may choose chapter membership in the county of residence or applicable campus where he/she works.

Higher Education Association Dues: Association dues for higher education state employee members shall be the same per month as all other regular members.

Higher Education Committee: This committee consists of members from the State Board and the general membership. The responsibility of this committee is to identify and address issues unique to higher education and focus on strategies to grow membership.

The Real Meaning of Higher Education Membership

We often receive calls from active higher education state employees who wonder why they should join TSEA membership. The answer is very simple.

TSEA will represent you for your entire state career.

Whenever and wherever we have been faced with legislative or contractual matters that would adversely affect our members, this association has responded. TSEA is leading the fight to protect your state employment benefits and works tirelessly to make sure you work with dignity and respect.

To join TSEA, click here. Once you click on that link, you are taken to a secure online membership application. You can also share the link to the application with any coworkers who aren’t TSEA members, and they can sign up instantly online!

Opportunities to Participate

TSEA also offers opportunities for formal and informal interactions with other higher education state employees such as local chapter meetings and annual membership events like Lobby Day and Representative Assembly.

Reaching Out to Others

To be an effective voice for you, we need to continue to grow! What can you do?

Join TSEA today and encourage your coworkers to do the same.

Use resources available through your TSEA membership to stay informed about the issues that impact you and your job.

Remember, TSEA was founded and is governed completely by state employees.

To receive an application for membership contact the TSEA office at 1-800-251-8732.


We Have Members on a Campus Near You!

State Community Colleges

Chattanooga State CC
Cleveland State
Columbia State CC
Dyersburg State CC
Jackson State CC
Motlow State CC
Nashville State CC
Northeast State CC
Pellissippi State CC
Roane State CC
*SWTCC Macon
*SWTCC Union
Volunteer State CC
Walters State CC

TN Applied Technology Colleges

TCAT Elizabethton
TCAT Knoxville
TCAT Livingston
*TCAT Memphis
TCAT Morristown
TCAT Nashville

State Universities

Austin Peay
Tennessee State
Tennessee Tech
UT — Knoxville
UT — Martin
*University of Memphis

*These Universities have a TSEA Higher-Education-specific chapter which meets regularly. SWTCC Macon, SWTCC Union, TCAT Memphis, UTHSC and the University of Memphis are all a part of the Memphis Higher Education Chapter. Please visit the TSEA calendar on our website to view the next meeting.