As many of you know, last fall TDOT announced that they would proceed with the Regional Construction and Maintenance merge that would:
- Consolidate regional construction and maintenance divisions to improve work efficiency, promote flexibility, establish increased management presence at the local level, and improve overall workforce capabilities and related skills.
- Rebuild construction staff to a level that will facilitate in-house department construction engineering and inspection.
- Result in combined annual savings of $16.1 million beginning in 2017.
Executive and Human Resources staff visited all four regions and presented the implementation plan to 1,600 employees in June. TSEA staff was in attendance for all meetings and asked questions on behalf of our members. In July, TDOT staff started their second phase of communication to explain the Governor’s new Compensation Plan that took effect July 1, 2013. These discussions included a review of the new organizational structure, the new position titles and related salary grades.
In these meetings, TDOT was to review your current salary and advise as to your salary in different positions within the new organization. It is important to understand that TDOT wants all employees to apply for positions for which they may qualify, and in many cases this may lead to a promotion.
Please note: If an employee does not apply for a new position by September 1, 2015, the position that they currently hold will be abolished and that employee will be RIF’d. Until 2015, they will stay and work in their current title. If the employee decides to retire on September 1, 2015, they can if they are eligible for retirement.
As always, please do not hesitate to seek assistance from TSEA. We are working diligently with TDOT to ensure all of your questions and concerns are answered and are encouraged by the new opportunities that will be made available to all TDOT employees and the increased compensation rates for these new positions.
- The new Compensation plan afforded TDOT employees $12 million dollars in compensation and benefits. Without the construction and maintenance plan, upgrades to many TDOT classifications would not have been possible. Because the new job classifications will require additional training or higher level qualifications, current staff must qualify and apply for the new positions.
- If an employee chooses to accept a classification that is lower in grade than the currently held classification (voluntary demotion), the employee’s salary will remain the same. In cases where the current salary is higher than the range maximum, the salary will be reduced to the range maximum for the salary grade. TDOT has worked diligently to ensure that the majority of staff will retain their salary; however, as in all situations, there may be cases where an employee’s current salary is outside of the range.
- TSEA has been advised that employees can apply for positions that are available in any county and in any district. This may lead to promotional opportunities for employees.
- Promotional salary steps increased from 4.5% to 5% effective July 1, 2013. There is more than a 15% increase in entry rates between the Operations Technician 1, the Operations Technician 2, and the Operations Technician 3 and the District Operation Assistant.
- In regard to the new Operation Technician 1 classification, TDOT will accept the following documents in lieu of a valid high school diploma or GED: Valid High School Certificate and Special Education Diploma
- If an employee does not have a required high school diploma or GED diploma, TDOT will actively assist employees by providing training opportunities through free programs recognized by the Tennessee Department of Labor. TDOT will reimburse the exam fee to any employee who receives a GED Diploma between October 1, 2012 and September 1, 2015. Employees who would like to seek assistance should contact their Region’s Construction/Maintenance Education Coordinator.
- We have received many concerns from current staff that are supervisors that may not have a BSCE or meet the new qualifications. We encourage you to attend the District Meetings and ask questions concerning the other positions for which you may qualify and the related salary grades. In many cases, a reduction in grade will not lead to a decrease in pay and many of these positions will continue to provide technical assistance and supervision to technical field staff.
As some of you may have heard, beginning in January 2014 the GED test will be more difficult and expensive to take. If you have not completed all parts of the test by January, you will have to start over under the new test system. We encourage you to PLEASE register and take the exam before the end of this year. We want as many of you as possible to pass under the present testing system to qualify for your new positions.
The test has not been updated since 1942, so we anticipate a more stringent test in line with the new “common core standards” in Math and English. We also know the test will be a minimum of $120, as compared to the present test fee, which averages $65. TSEA urges all of you that need this qualification to sign up immediately and take the test before the end of the year.
The Department of Labor & Workforce Development sponsors FREE GED Preparation Courses in every county of Tennessee. For a list of classes near you, please click HERE to find your county. For a list of area GED Testing Centers to take the test, please click HERE.