More than 100 workers are getting pink slips from the state as part of a major job outsourcing plan.
The global company taking over the jobs says the state of Tennessee's move is unprecedented, and it's so big, no other state has ever attempted it on this scale.
Commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle soon will be taking over the Department of General Services' role in the management and maintenance of all Tennessee state buildings.
The company told the state the deal will save taxpayers more than $50 million over the next five years, but that is little comfort to longtime employees who worry they may soon be out of a job.
The Channel 4 I-Team talked with one of 126 general services employees who were given a 60-day notice that they will soon be out of a job.
The employee asked not to be identified, because he doesn't want it to interfere with finding new work.
"After 24 years, it's kind of a slap in the face," the state worker said.
The employee does maintenance work on state buildings, and that task will soon be under the leadership of private firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which will oversee projects like cleaning, landscaping, pest control and repair work.
The Channel 4 I-Team asked the state why it decided to outsource this work.
"We did not have the technology available to efficiently manage our facilities, and we decided it was in the best interest of the state to work with a company who did have those resources," said Kelly Smith, Assistant Communications Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of General Services.
Jones Lang LaSalle won the competitively bid contract, beating out one other company, and the state said the outsourcing will save taxpayers money in the long run.
"At the end of the day, our job in state government is to provide the very best service for the lowest price, and that's what we're intent on doing," Gov. Bill Haslam said.
The 126 employees whose state jobs are being eliminated can apply to work the same jobs with Jones Lang LaSalle.
In its proposal to the state, the company said: "We generally see between 65 to 85 percent of the new staffing model's positions being offered to impacted employees. In the case of the State of Tennessee, we expect this range to be lower and have prepared for alternative staffing strategies."
That is not encouraging news for the state worker to whom we spoke, but he said he did apply in hopes of keeping his job.
"The whole deal is just wrong, but we are so small, we don't feel like there's something we can do about it. You know, the people that still have their jobs, they're the ones making the decisions for us," the state worker said.
Jones Lang LaSalle will take over management of state buildings July 1.
The company said it expects Tennessee workers and companies will continue to be heavily involved in state building maintenance going forward, and Haslam said he expects most of the employees will get their jobs back.
The state workers who are not hired back will be out of work starting June 30. They will then be eligible for a severance package.
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