Committee OKs bill to end teachers' contract negotiations

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 4:57pm

Republican state senators, hoping to appease opponents, unveiled their new proposal Wednesday to outlaw collective bargaining by public school teachers.

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Brentwood, cast his amendment as a major concession to teachers, although his bill still would repeal the state’s collective bargaining law and end contract negotiations by teachers.

The amendment, approved by the Senate Education Committee by a 6-3 vote, would require school boards across the state to develop employment manuals on pay, benefits and working conditions after holding public hearings and giving teachers and the public time to comment.

“I’d say the operative word is collaboration,” Johnson told the committee. “We want our teachers to be heard. We want them to have input. They are the ones in our classroom. They are the ones with our kids. There is certainly nothing wrong with ensuring that their voices are heard.”

But the amendment would not provide teachers with any way to force changes in the manuals, and Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters complained it gives only “some illusion of input from various groups.”

“We do not view this in any positive light,” Winters told the committee.

Winters scoffed at Johnson’s claim that Republicans seek collaboration with teachers.

“We represent 50,000 teachers in this state. No one’s knocked on our door asking for our participation,” Winters said. “Quite frankly, I think it’s very disingenuous for you to say this is about collaboration because no one has asked for our input.”

Winters said the legislature’s Republican majority has filed an “unrelenting barrage of bills” against the teachers’ union this session only a year after the TEA made significant concessions last year to help the state win $500 million in President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top competition.

“Those very teachers feel betrayed by you,” Winters said. “They feel you’ve turned your back on them. They do not feel they’ve been treated with the respect they deserve. Morale is low. There have been a lot of bridges burned this session. Passage of this bill just burns another one of those bridges.”

Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to bust the TEA because the association has traditionally allied itself with Democrats in election campaigns.

“It’s not easy to take when you’re accused of bashing teachers,” Johnson said. “I have not heard one member of the general assembly say one critical thing about teachers. You certainly haven’t heard that out of me.”

The companion bill in the House has been amended to allow collective bargaining for pay and benefits but not for other matters, such as merit pay. The amended Senate proposal is aimed at winning House support for an outright repeal of collective bargaining.  House Speaker Beth Harwell has indicated that representatives will go along with the new Senate bill.

Filed under: City News

12 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 4/21/11 at 5:42

The TEA has made it plain they will reject anything that takes away
their ability to collect dues and employ a full time staff. Both the
House and Senate members have been bashed by the Union
and the Press on this issue, so they might as well take whatever
actions they have in mind and get it behind them now!

By: jonescry on 4/21/11 at 7:09

NashNative - it is truly a shame that our state legislature merely mimics other state's laughable attempt at balancing the state budget on the backs of teachers who are paid among the lowest in the country already. Of course these are also the idiots that want creationism taught by the very same teachers they don't want to pay. Don't blame the Democrats when your kids don't know how to read or can't compete. Possibly Williamson and Sumner Counties think this won't affect THEIR conservative children. Try to think again.

By: gdiafante on 4/21/11 at 7:43

I'm beginning to think that the GOP wants to eliminate public education altogether. If you keep the masses ignorant, they're more likely to keep voting you in.

It's worked here for years.

By: treehugger7 on 4/21/11 at 7:56

Amen, gdia! You're on to the conspiracy! Charter schools are the next step to dismantling the whole educational system. "We don't need no education...we're just a brick in the wall."

By: Moonglow1 on 4/21/11 at 8:58

Moonglow1: interesting that the theo-tea nuts accepted the $500 million from President Obama's Race to the Top program. They hate the govt and they hate Obama, but they sure love to take the money. As far as collective bargaining Haslam is another Scott Walker following in lockstep with his benefactors at the ALEC. Of course Harwell marches alongside him spouting off that theo-tea nut nonsense. Now this group can print manuals that say anything: God snapped his fingers and behold the world came into being. And he snapped his fingers in 2011 and behold we have Charter Schools. His fingers snapped a third time to create"reverse creationism. " The TN legislature turned into little Scopes Monkeys. We placed them behind bars at the Grassmere Zoo. Thank you God.!! Your sense of fairness and love for the people has prevailed.

By: LizzyD on 4/21/11 at 10:09

ALEC writes the "talking points."

I see the talking points as:

"This is our lie, and we're sticking to it."

This is our lie (talking point)
and we're sticking to it (staying "on message")

Amazingly clever propaganda mechanism -- and as old as the hills themselves. It projects the lie, and ensures constant repetition. Notice it any time one of "them" is being "interviewed." They no longer just worm out of direct answers to important questions -- nowadays most of them are very good at always being able to call up one of the "talking points" to use in place of an answer. Over, and over, and over again.

I remember well when, back in the 80s, Wilson county moms, signs in one hand and pushing strollers with the other, picketed to have books removed from the libraries -- like The Wizard of Oz -- because they "had magic in them." Mae Beavers is no surprise to me at all.

By: pswindle on 4/21/11 at 1:46

Leave our teachers alone or you will pay in the next election. We will come out of the woodworks to vote.

By: budlight on 4/21/11 at 6:09

pswindle, get out of the woodwork and into the classroom. And if someone is "in the woodworks" instead of normally voting, do we really want them voting -- or care what they think? Might be self-centered, gimme people.

By: Gary Lampman on 4/21/11 at 9:32

Teacher being screwed by mindless village idiots whom as in as much of a collective of followers whom think the they are protected by their misguided faith. I believe these individuals are to blinded by their Faith and riding the Cash wagon of the wealthy.
Being drunk with power , it could take years to bring them down from their stupor.

Teachers and anyone who votes for Republicans are fools who are easily deceived.

By: pswindle on 4/22/11 at 1:54

The Haslam administration is real sneaky about the collective bargaining situation. Haslam wanted to just avoid he problem in WI so he agreed to adjust tenure. Here comes Ramsey o do the dirty work. He pushed this through the senate and he thinks that no one is watching. and Beth said, "I will supoort it." Do they think the people of TN is out of the loop? I want to know how Haslam, Ramsey, and the others are enjopying the bunker? They raised hell about it, but they are good at doing that during election time. I'm awake, how about the democrats, independents, and some republicans so the next election can take us back to sanity?

By: Moonglow1 on 4/23/11 at 2:16

Moonglow1: this made national news & Harwell was quoted. Problem is no group in TN is out protesting like they are doing in WI. What is wrong here. Such apathy. And today I read Corker has no opponent. No democrat is going against him. That's right. Make it easy for these tea's to win.

By: MamaD on 4/23/11 at 3:48

Where is the outcry about Haslem giving 11-32% pay increases to his commissioners? What about the General Assembly members getting retirement benefits, etc. from their PART TIME jobs. How much money has and is costing the tax payer each year? How many private businesses give their PART TIME employees retirement. Give us all a break. I see some kind of revolution coming soon in this country to get it back on track. Our founding fathers are doing cart wheels in their graves. Jefferson: "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." Mark Twain may have said it best, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." I voted for the two who represent my country, but next time, I will work with everything I have to see them defeated. They seem to forget that educators have families who also vote. It has always amazed me that people what ministers and teachers to live at the poverty level. Yager seems to forget that there were many teachers who worked for and voted for him. Hurley needs to go back to Hooters.