The Tennessee Aquarium is contracting out its gift shops and concessions.
An employee said about 30 workers are affected.
The contract will go to Event Network, which operates a number of similar facilities around the country.
The Aquarium has used its own staff since it opened in May 1992.
The employee said workers were told they could apply with the new company.
One was told the pay would not drop for at least a year.
The employee said, "Morale is very low at the Aquarium. They wonder if custodians will be next and if other departments could be farmed out."
Here is the statement from Tennessee Aquarium President and Ceo Keith Sanford:
"Like any well-run non-profit organization, the Tennessee Aquarium has an obligation to be a good steward of its resources. We are always looking at opportunities for improvement to ensure a future that is even more robust than our past.
"Recently, Event Network offered us a proposal to operate our retail and food and beverage locations.
"While our team has done a remarkable job with these operations over the years, we felt it was in the Aquarium’s best interests to move forward with the Event Network partnership at this time for the following reasons:
• Their commitment to providing a level of service that exceeds our guest’s expectations.
• Their high level of retail expertise in the areas of merchandising, store design and product development.
• Their leadership in the efforts to reduce single use plastics in retail store operations (where they have often led the charge in line with the Aquarium Conservation Partnership’s goals) and their own corporate commitment to sustainable practices.
• Their strong reputation of being an enthusiastic and innovative partner.
• Their proven track record of improving financial results for their partners.
"One last, but extremely important reason the Aquarium partnered with Event Network was their approach to the transition process. Event Network prioritized interviewing and hiring members from our existing retail and food/beverage teams as they prepare to begin operations on January 21, 2020. In fact, all of the individuals who interviewed were offered positions with Event Network. Michael Floyd, the Aquarium’s current retail store manager, was selected by Event Network to become their local store director. He will oversee operations for both retail and food/beverage. Bailey Meredith, the Aquarium’s current concessions manager, food and beverage, was selected by Event Network as their Café Assistant Director.
"Job offers were extended by Event Network this week. The totals break down as follows:
Aquarium employees before transition:
14 full-time, 16 part-time
Event Network employees:
7 full-time, 14 part-time
"Not all staff members chose to interview, but we have since heard from a couple of individuals in food/beverage who are now planning to interview with Event Network.
"Everyone remains an Aquarium employee until Event Network begins operations on January 21.
"This decision was made after a lengthy process of thoroughly analyzing our retail and food/beverage operations. We also held lengthy discussions with Event Network, and spent time talking with, and visiting, other aquariums that were already Event Network partners. After evaluating our future needs and deliberating our choices, we negotiated a contract with Event Network that shows a strong potential to produce significantly more revenue that we can use to reinvest in our infrastructure, conservation work and education programs.
"In addition, Event Network will remodel all three of our gift shops which significantly adds to the value of this agreement."