The Tennessee State Employees Association says that Governor Bill Haslam is “mean-spirited” after the Governor said that the 1.6% pay increases which State employees received effective on the first of this month won’t be going to about 100 State workers who have been demoted, suspended, or who have received more than one written warning in the past year. The TSEA is even threatening legal action-as though any suit on a matter such as this would hold up in any court in the land for more than five minutes. It bears examining the conditions under which an employee won’t be receiving their State-mandated pay increase.
Under the Governor’s newly-established pay rule, an employee won’t receive their raise if they have been demoted-that is, reduced from some previous rank. To be demoted without asking for it requires some very serious offense against the established rules of work in one’s job. The other major reason a State employee might not receive their legal raise is that they will have been suspended in the last year. Literally, that employee would have to have been forbidden from showing up to work for a specified period of time as punishment for a major infraction of policy. Finally, the other class of employees that will not received the raise put into law by the General Assembly for the new fiscal year are those employees who have received more than one written warning for violations of policy in the last year. To be pegged with one written warning is a serious infraction, because many employers will give two verbal warnings-which never count against anyone because they can’t be legally documented-before issuing the first written one. Under the Governor’s ruling, someone will have to get not one, but at least two written warnings in their file before they can’t get the same raise as everyone else.
In the private sector this would be considered an occasional wage or salary increase, and most of those are conditional on the employee maintaining a good work record. That means that up to now, most State employees have just gotten a raise whenever the Legislature voted that one should be given across the board. Ordinary citizens might be interested to know that the condition of good conduct was never imposed on the raises State employees received in the past. In the private employment world, there are words for Governor Haslam’s “mean-spirited” raise policy-very lenient.