By Joe White,
February 21, 2012

After walking away from talks with the governor, the Tennessee State Employee Association is apparently negotiating behind the scenes on the governor’s plan for employment practices.

Senator Mark Norris of Memphis, the governor’s floor leader in the Senate, postponed action on a bill that does away with most civil service protections for the state’s 46,000 employees.
Norris says the bill is still a work in progress but didn’t spell out the changes which have been agreed to. 

“There’s very productive dialogue between the governor and the state employees, I mean, that was the case last week, and I think we have reached agreement on two or three amendments.”

Norris stopped short of saying the TSEA would endorse the bill. But he says the negotiations will try to define the new “performance data” on which employees will be graded, replacing the current seniority-based system.
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Norris says Legislators are holding off on changing the bill while negotiations are taking place.

“Ultimately a switch from a seniority-based system to a performance-based system is going to bring with it some …disagreement and some uncertainty that’s associated with it. It brings a lot of reticence at the outset. But I think to the extent we can define what the performance criteria are, and implement the bill so that folks have time to adjust to that, it will be helpful.”

The bill is SB 2246 Norris/HB 2384 McCormick, which the governor calls the TEAM bill – Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management. It has been deferred to Feb. 28 in the Senate State and Local Government Committee and was expected to also be deferred in the House State and Local Government Committee.

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