Bill to repeal teachers' collective bargaining rights becomes law

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 4:21pm

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Wednesday the repeal of collective bargaining for public school teachers and a major overhaul of Tennessee’s campaign finance regulations.

The collective bargaining debate was perhaps the most contentious of the just-finished legislative session. The Tennessee Education Association urged the governor to veto the bill, but he said even during the session that he would sign it.

It replaces collective bargaining between the teachers’ union and school boards with non-binding “collaborative conferencing,” stripping the TEA of most of its power.

The new campaign finance law allows direct corporate contributions to candidates and political parties for the first time in Tennessee. It also raises the caps on contributions — from $2,500 to $3,600 for individuals in the governor’s race, for example — and provides for annual increases in the future pegged to the rate of inflation.

The bill treats corporations like political action committees, limiting their contributions the same and applying the same disclosure rules. Contribution limits for PACs would increase from $7,500 to $10,700 for state Senate and gubernatorial races, and from $5,000 to $7,100 for state House campaigns.

Democratic legislative leaders opposed allowing corporate contributions and predicted it would lead to a flood of new cash and increased spending in campaigns.

“It’s going to be an arms race of Democrats and Republicans trying to compete for this corporate cash instead of concentrating on good government,” House Democratic Caucus chair Mike Turner said. “I just think it’s wrong. I think it’s un-American. Tennessee will rue the day we’ve done this.”

The bill’s Republican sponsors said they are responding to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the federal law barring corporations from making independent expenditures in political campaigns.

“This basically would just level the playing field, because unions are allowed to do this by statute now,” Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said.

19 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 6/1/11 at 5:17

This will be Haslam water-loo. Teachers do not deserve to be kicked under the bus like this. He will soon see the damage that this has done. His word is not worth the paper it is written on. I congratulate the people of WI standing tall for their teachers. I want to know where the firemen and police offficers were during this assaultt on the foundation of education. There would be no education were it not for teachers.

By: JeffF on 6/1/11 at 6:03

Police and fire are with the other 92% of publicemployees who manage to get along without collective bargaining rights. Why would they be thrilled to see teachers get special rights no one else has? Waterloo is a stretch considering the long slide into obscurity of Democrats and the unions which buys what they are selling without any actual payoff.

Why do unions leaders not do things in the best interest of their memberships? Not as much money in it.

By: pswindle on 6/1/11 at 8:24

Firemen and police have unions. The people of TN are now seeing what happens when the GOP has total control. I hope a lawsuit is filed to stop the bill from taking effect as they did in WI. The GOP has misplaced power. Almost every bill that Haslam has signed protects his businesses.

By: District 8 on 6/1/11 at 10:07

Police and firefighters, along with other organized workers from across the state, did stand with teachers...and on many occasions. Unfortunately like in WI, the Republican Party in the Tennessee General Assembly, intoxicated by their majority, showed the middle class what was most important to Republicans...and it was certainly not the middle class.

They passed legislation, which further opens the floodgate for business and corporate political contributions. Yet imbedded in the "collaborative conferencing" bill was legislation that forbids political activity from teachers. This is only a first step in attempting to limit the voice and political participation of hard working Tennesseans, and is also a blatant attempt to control the outcome of elections. The bigger question is not where were fire and police, but where are the folks who voted these self/business-serving individuals into office. The newly elected Republican legislators quickly jumped in step to follow the wishes of party leadership, while at the same time, both ignored and showed contempt for those they were elected to represent. Elections have consequences. The electorate will either show if they are content with this contempt, or use 2012 to enact their own form of legislative tenure and reform.

Only a few Tennessee cities allow public employees, like fire and police to "meet and confer" on collective agreements, a practice that Haslam would not allow in Knoxville. They would have liked the Collective Bargaining Bill expanded to include them, but when you live in a state hell bent on screwing the workers for the sake of business profits, it didn't happen. For teachers, collective bargaining ensured a collaborative process, because both sides were equal. The new law mirrors the practice mentioned above for fire and police. Collective bargaining has now become collective begging, but only if the school system allows one to beg.

On the campaign trail, Haslam talked a lot about the importance of leadership and his ability as an effective leader. During these first months in office, along with his rubber stamp, he has proven that leadership is something he knows very little about. He, and the new majority, have shown they can talk a mean game, but their actions show their true colors. Wake up voters, hold them accountable, and show them who’s boss.

By: gdiafante on 6/2/11 at 5:56

They're attempting to bust unions not to help the average worker, but to eliminate traditionally large Democrat campaign donors. It's not surprising that the average citizen in this state doesn't understand.

We have the government we deserve.

By: govskeptic on 6/2/11 at 6:24

Whine, whine, this gives the Teachers an immediate raise. They now can put
those TEA dues in their own pockets, versus the pockets of Mike Turner and
Rep. Naifeh and the TEA high salaried executives! This is a good bill for the
voting Middle Class of this state as they are carrying the tax burden and truly
want Education improvement not the lip service of the last 30+ yrs!

By: Radix on 6/2/11 at 6:43

Great news. More money for good teachers, less for anti-reform unions. This will help them keep the good teachers and get rid of the bad. The Kool-aid minority posting here are just progressive-Marxists losing their grip. Go try Venezuela or Cuba guys...

This is a win for teachers, kids and parents.

By: BigPapa on 6/2/11 at 7:32

I was wondering why blood was running in the streets, then I was reminded that this was becoming law.
Big win for good teachers, even though they dont know it yet.

By: Cookie47 on 6/2/11 at 7:59

This is a win for good teachers and students.

The TEA hates it because it strips them of their power. IMO, that's a good thing.

The teachers that hate this are the bad ones. Now, they're fearful for their jobs as they should be. If you want better pay, do your job you were hired to do. That's what everybody else has to do. Why should bad teachers get any better when they don't deserve it?

By: pswindle on 6/2/11 at 8:19

Collective bargaining is a protection for students. You will see that the student/teacher ratio will creep up. Before collective bargaining, there were as many as 40+ students in a classroom. Students did not have Phy ED, but a little play time here and there. This is just an example where we will be taken back in the name of saving money. This bill has nothing to do with teachers, but to bust the unions in hope for more money going insto the GOP elections. Talking about rights being taken away, this is just the beginning that the GOP will go after as long as we leave their rights alone. Don't you remember the GOP saying, "keep the government out of my busines." Well, we would like for them to stay out of our business, and give the teachers the respect that they deserve.

By: Cookie47 on 6/2/11 at 8:32

Good teachers deserve all the respect in the world. Bad ones deserve nothing but a box and a pink slip.

Let me make something perfectly clear after saying that. The problems within our schools are NOT all the fault of bad teachers. Two major problems in the schools are the lack of parent involvement and a lack of discipline at home. If you put a good teacher together with involved parents and good discipline, there's nothing that student can't do.

Collective bargaining only helps bad teachers keep jobs they don't deserve and hinders good teachers from making better pay.

By: Radix on 6/2/11 at 9:31

@pswindle, Unions care about two things. Power and money. They confiscate funds from their members and give them exclusively to one political party. Who in turn, give them sweetheart deals at taxpayers expense. They protect mediocrity. How does that help students? School improvement is driven by great teachers and parent involvement.

And by the way, if you're teaching my kids, and I am paying your check, then it absolutely is my business. Pretty arrogant of you to think otherwise.

Tennessee will be better for breaking up the biggest Quid Pro Quo fleecing in history, which is Democrats and Unions. Well done.

By: pswindle on 6/2/11 at 9:54

Collective bargaining does not protect bad teachers. It makes for better working conditions for teachers and students. It is up to the principals to stop a teacher from getting tenure. This is just another GOP talking point to get their way in trying to stop the democrats from ever having a say in TN. We have started down the long pathe of destruction in just a short time, and that thanks goes to the GOP and Haslam. They have been bought out by the corportations. (Wine and Dine, etc.)

By: BigPapa on 6/2/11 at 10:09

Tenure is not "just a talking point".. it really exisits and it really protects some really terrible employees.

By: Cookie47 on 6/2/11 at 10:13

pswindle, this does take the power away from the TEA and that's a good thing.

My daughter had a teacher in the first grade that should have either retired or preferably fired long before she ever got my little girl as a student. She was burned out and, frankly, it was evident she just didn't care. After several complaints, the union stepped in to save her job, the children be damned.

I understand this may be an isolated case but it showed me the union doesn't give a damn about the students. They only want power and money.

From your posts, you must either be a teacher or are close to someone who is. You seem like a bright, articulate person, someone I would like teaching my children. Unfortunately, not all teachers are like you. Those are the ones we need to get out of the schools then hire better ones and pay the good ones more money.

By: JeffF on 6/2/11 at 1:13

Name the top three school systems in Tennessee ranked by student achievements, testing, and dropout rates. Two of those three do not deal with any teachers' unions.

Name the two failing school systems in the state. Both of those school systems do have to bargain with teachers' unions. One of those systems had to turn down a sizable grant that would pay for performance bonuses for excellent teachers in it's lowest performing schools. The teachers from those school systems are the predominate power brokers in the TEA and were a majority of the teachers taking part in demonstrations at the state capital.

By: JeffF on 6/2/11 at 1:17

Sorry, minor mistake. Oak Ridge does not have collective bargaining so that is 3 for 3 on the top schools list.

By: govskeptic on 6/2/11 at 5:40


May I give you a big amen to your 9:47 posting. So very well said!

By: Radix on 6/3/11 at 1:42

@PSwinde, Collective bargaining doesn't protect bad teachers. Unions do. Unions also take teachers money and give it exclusively to establishment Democrats. So if this law, as you say "stops the democrats from ever having a say in TN", that is great, because Democrats will just protect the same unions that are part of the problem. And by "path of destruction" do you mean like Detroit where Unions rule? Or maybe Chicago? Or NJ before Christie put an end to the progressive-Marxists running the schools? Glad TN never got so bad... stay away from the Kool-Aid, the protesters in Wisconsin are definitely NOT doing it for the kids.