Harwell predicts passage of bill to repeal collective bargaining for teachers

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 1:49pm

State House Speaker Beth Harwell predicted passage of the Republican bill to repeal collective bargaining by public school teachers, but said Thursday for the first time that it’s “not a priority” of hers.

The bill, one of the most controversial of this year’s session, is in jeopardy in the House where this week the Finance Committee sent it back to the Education Committee, which already had closed for business for the year.

At her weekly news conference, Harwell said the committee will reopen next week to hear the bill again, which cleared the full Senate this week. She said she expects the House eventually to adopt the bill, although she hesitated when asked about the measure’s chances in the Finance Committee.

“We’ll see,” she said at first before adding, “I believe it will pass the Finance Committee.”

Asked how strongly she personally is committed to the legislation, Harwell said, “It was not a priority of mine nor was it a priority of the governor’s. But if Republican legislators feel strongly they would like to have this passed, we’re going to work hard to accomplish that.”

Asked whether she was backing away from the bill, she added, “I’m supportive of the bill. As amended, this can move education forward. I think it’s a significant move in our state. I am extremely supportive of the measure and will work to see its passage. I was just simply saying that this was not a priority of the governor or of the Republican caucus. But I believe it’s important to our caucus, and we’re going to get it passed.”

The House Education Committee originally passed the bill, but that version allowed collective bargaining to continue for base pay and benefits. Contract negotiations were prohibited for merit pay and other issues.

The Senate version is an outright repeal of collective bargaining, however. House sponsors now are trying to amend their bill to conform to the Senate’s. Some House Republicans, who are feeling the political heat from teachers in their district, are opposed to the bill.

The Tennessee Education Association contends Republicans are retaliating against the TEA because the teachers’ union is a traditional ally of Democrats in election campaigns.

9 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 5/5/11 at 8:59

It is time for a new elelction. TN has made a terrible mistake in turing the state over to the GOP. Beth, are you going after the police, fireman and other unions?

By: HokeyPokey on 5/6/11 at 5:12

If Wisconsin is any guide, the pols won't go after any unions perceived as "friendly" to their re-election efforts.

But a new election? Nawww. The folks who elected these pirates need to spend a little time wallowing in their own filth in order to get the message.

Oh, and dig this image of a recent Tennessee "Liberty" Tea Party woo hooo!! http://j.mp/munEoO


By: Bellecat on 5/6/11 at 5:51

These morons are not doing the job they were sent here to do, and are nothing but bullies. " We The People" should send them a message in 2012.

By: govskeptic on 5/6/11 at 6:06

This certainly should pass the Finance Committee and the House
as well if this majority expects to retain majority status. The past
election had more to do than just limiting Jury awards and granting
banks and mortgage companies the right to foreclose on homes
already easier than it already is!

By: PhiDelt496 on 5/6/11 at 7:09


The police and fireman in Tennessee are allowed to have unions, but the unions are not allowed to collectively bargain salary with municipalities. Teachers are the only ones who are in this state.

I think that if you get what you wish for "a new election" you would probably find that Repubs would get even larger majorities in both The House, and The Senate. The people of this state are growing more conservative by the minute in response to Liberal Agendas.

By: Cookie47 on 5/6/11 at 11:24

If a teacher is doing their job well, why would he/she have a problem with the prospect of being able to negotiate for themselves and make better money?

If a teacher sucks at their job, why would we as parents not want them out of our school?

The TEA takes away the good teachers private bargaining ability and protects the teacher that sucks. If I were a teacher, I wouldn't want a union standing in my way to make the most money possible.

As for a new election, I agree with PhiDelt496 so lets go for it.

By: Moonglow1 on 5/6/11 at 11:28



Whoops, Tea Party Hero Paul Ryan Votes FOR Labor Unions when It Affects His Family Business Interests. He Loves Unions when they Benefit his Personal Interests-of Course, that is the Tea Party Way.

The following is some information about Tea Party hero Paul Ryan: “ But a closer look at Ryan's voting record reveals a single eyebrow-raising exception when it comes to labor unions: Ryan has consistently broken with his party to defend a law protecting the wages of unionized construction workers. His stance on the issue has earned him the support of a handful of unions back home, setting them apart from the majority of Wisconsin's labor community, which who has cast Ryan as public enemy No. 1. What explains this break in GOP orthodoxy? Ryan's family owns a construction firm that relies heavily on union labor—and the company could suffer if the law were repealed.”

By: HokeyPokey on 5/6/11 at 11:54

Here's what I learned from this discussion: If you don't like what's going on, it's because it's the "Liberal Agenda," whatever that means.

Notes taken, my class is over for the day.


By: pswindle on 5/8/11 at 2:08

Unions are more than salary bargaining. I remember a class of 42 second graders before the union came in and protected both the teachers and studens.