News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Democratic legislative leaders applauded an amendment to a bill by Governor Bill Haslam to reinstate support of Tennessee veterans under revamped state hiring practices.
“Thanks to the work of legislative Democrats and the Governor’s cooperative spirit, our veterans will continue to receive the support that they deserve,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “Our veterans put their lives on the line to protect us. The least we can do is support them when they return home.”
The amendment passed Tuesday in the Senate State and Local Committee would require that, with all other aspects being equal, a veteran’s service be the deciding hiring factor when interviewing for open civil service positions. The amendment also ensures that veterans will continue to receive five years’ worth of work experience credit for their military service when layoffs are considered.
Veterans are also to receive written notice should they not be chosen for an open position.
Democrats raised questions after the administration’s original proposal removed existing support for veterans in hiring for nearly 35,000 state positions. The amendment passed Tuesday uses language drafted by Turner and other Democrats.
“We are pleased that the Governor has been willing to accept good ideas, regardless of which party brings them,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney said. “We are hopeful that this attitude will continue throughout the legislative session, among lawmakers and the Governor alike.”
The committee passed the bill, SB2246/HB2384, which will go to the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The House version of the bill is being discussed Tuesday afternoon.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
Governor Bill Haslam’s stealthy effort to eliminate veterans’ preference for state hires looks poised to hit a very public stumbling block — Tennessee veterans.
Haslam’s TEAM Act would eliminate civil service rules, such as veterans’ preference, that protect taxpayers from political patronage, a corrupted hiring system that centralizes authority and rewards friends and campaign donors with government jobs and contracts.
William Woolet, of Knoxville, served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War from 1945 to 1952 aboard the U.S.S. Princeton, an aircraft carrier. Woolet says it’s wrong to take away rights from veterans when so many young men and women are coming home without a job.
“Maybe Governor Haslam doesn’t understand that there just aren’t enough jobs out here right now,” Woolet said. “That means getting a job for a veteran is pretty a big deal. It doesn’t make me feel very good that he’d want to change veterans’ preference. These soldiers deserve better when they get back.
“And I can promise you this: If a veteran is qualified to do the work, you cannot find an employee who’ll do the work and get the job done better than a veteran,” Woolet said.
The unemployment rate for young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is upward of 30 percent, according to estimates. In a state with multiple military installations and more than 400,000 veterans, Haslam’s decision to eliminate veterans’ preference is making headlines.
News release from House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE (February 21) – Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to change the personnel policies of Tennessee state employees would eliminate preference given to military veterans and spouses of deceased and disabled veterans.
Haslam’s “TEAM Act,” sponsored by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R- Chattanooga) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Colllierville) eliminates the Civil Service Commission. Under present law, applicants to state jobs are scored based on a variety of measures and preference is given to veterans and spouses of veterans who are applying for jobs in Tennessee.
“We have always given our veterans and their spouses’ preference in finding jobs in Tennessee,” House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner said. “These men and women have fought for our freedoms overseas, and we need to do everything that we can to take care of them when they return home.”
During Tuesday’s State and Local Government Committee meeting, Turner was joined by Republican members who also spoke out against eliminating the preference given to veterans. Haslam’s proposal would guarantee veterans receive an interview, but no preference would be given to them in the hiring process. House Government Operations Chairman Jim Cobb (R- Spring City) said during the committee that to him, giving veterans an interview, but no preference in hiring, is “almost an insult to a veteran.”
Haslam’s new proposal does nothing to help spouses of deceased and disabled veterans find a job. Presently, spouses are also given preference in finding employment in Tennessee.
“Now, more than ever, we need to be helping our military and their spouses find jobs. They have put their lives on the line for all of us in Tennessee. The governor’s proposal to eliminate preference given to our military and their spouses does not treat our veterans with the respect they deserve,” Turner said.
Amazon is ready to start hiring the bulk of its workers for distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press..
“We’re looking forward to opening our first two facilities in Tennessee this fall, creating 1,200 jobs,” said Dave Clark, vice president of North American operations for Amazon.
The nation’s biggest online retailer has continued construction on two massive facilities while trying to fend off legislation in Nashville that would force it to collect sales tax from Tennessee customers.
The company announced two websites that people can go to and submit applications, along with a telephone number.
Note: Amazon did a press release on this. It’s below.