State Workers Demand Change After I-Team Investigation - WSMV News 4

State Workers Demand Change After I-Team Investigation

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State workers are calling for the lieutenant governor to "right what he did wrong." It's all in reaction to a Channel 4 I-Team investigation that found Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey gave Senate staffers raises when no other state workers got them. 

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The Tennessee State Employees Association is calling for quick change, demanding more money for state workers after what the I-Team exposed. 

"We were shocked. We were shocked," said Robert O'Connell, executive director of the TSEA. 

After watching the I-Team investigation, the TSEA learned raises were not off the table for every state worker -- at least, not the ones who worked for Ramsey. 

Ramsey gave 18 of his staff members "classification upgrades," or raises, at a time when all other state workers were told raises were not possible. Some received as much as an 8 percent raise, while others got a 4 percent raise.

 "There's nothing wrong with that nothing," said Ramsey a couple weeks ago. 

"Do you think the rest of state workers, when they learn of these 'classification upgrades,' will feel that way?" asked the I-Team's Caroline Moses. 

"I do," said Ramsey. 

According to O'Connell, they don't. 

"It was a bit of a slap in the face, and we wish that it hadn't happened that way," said O'Connell. 

O'Connell said he was told by Ramsey that raises were not possible because of budget constraints, so he expects Ramsey to now rectify the situation by giving all state workers equal treatment. 

"I expect they'll fix this. I expect they'll come along next year and make this right," said O'Connell. 

This coming fiscal year's budget legislators and the governor approved a 1.6 percent raise for all state workers, but the TSEA is calling for across-the-board pay raises of at least 4 percent included in next fiscal year's budget to equal what was given to Ramsey's staff. The TSEA is also asking that each employee's pay be re-evaluated so that his or her salary fits with the worker's position and experience. 

"It was inappropriate to give these raises when no one else was taken care of," said O'Connell. "It can be fixed by giving state employees a significant raise and fixing the problem of salary compression in the coming year."

 The TSEA said state workers have not received raises for three years. In July, they will get that 1.6 percent increase, but O'Connell said that isn't nearly enough, especially after learning from the I-Team investigation that the Legislature can afford as much as 8 percent raises for its own workers.

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