House committee passes more moderate bargaining bill

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 6:03pm

House Republicans switched back Tuesday to the more moderate version of their bill to curtail collective bargaining for public school teachers, setting the stage for a fight with GOP senators and the Tea Party.

For the second time this session, the House Education Committee adopted legislation that continues to allow contract negotiations over base pay and benefits, but repeals bargaining for merit and incentive pay plans and for teacher assignments, among other matters. The vote was 11-6.

The Senate already has approved its own version of the bill, repealing collective bargaining outright. Last week, House leaders tried to amend their bill to conform to the Senate’s, but they ran into resistance from moderate Republicans and Democrats in the House Finance Committee. In that committee, lawmakers voted to send the bill back to the Education Committee, which already had closed for this year’s session.

House Speaker Beth Harwell reopened the committee to meet Tuesday. But instead of adopting the Senate language, as demanded by tea partyers, committee chairman Richard Montgomery announced, “We decided we liked what we did originally.” 

Lawmakers then voted to send the bill back to the Finance Committee, where Harwell has conceded it might fail. 

Democrats complained about the bill itself and about the backroom deal-making that left them in the dark. 

“I feel like I’ve walked into the middle of a movie and I’m trying to figure out what happened before I sat down,” Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, said.

House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh called the bill “an assault on teachers.” He said Republicans were trying to retaliate against the teachers’ union for giving too much campaign cash to Democrats. Rep. Lois DeBerry, D-Memphis, called it a “denial of a fundamental right of freedom of association.”

“If teachers are not free to associate and organize, who is safe?” she asked.

7 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 5/11/11 at 5:20

It appears the Republicans are playing a game on the public that elected them.
With a 65-34 majority in the House you'd think they could pass a bill without
all the game playing from the Governor's and Speaker's office. House
Speaker Emeritus(such a phony title) Naifeh never did anything to truly
improve education in this state, but now wants to become it's spokesperson!
Is the Tenn Chamber of Commerce the only group that is going to benefit
from this years legislative session?

By: morpheus120 on 5/11/11 at 5:20

"...setting the stage for a fight with GOP senators and the Tea Party."

Really? The Tea Party cares about this issue?

I would think that if anything, they'd be in support of collective bargaining since repealing it is anti-freedom and anti-free speech. Plus, collective bargaining allows regular people a seat at the table in the halls of power. Doesn't the TP support that? And I have yet to hear of any Teabaggers going to the Capitol this year to make noise over collective bargaining - unlike the thousands of teachers, police, fire, public employees, and average citizens who have demonstrated in support of it.

The only people I see railing against collective bargaining are the GOPers Ketron, Casada, and Harwell who are trying to fundraise from the business crowd.

I don't know, Woods. Seems like you're trying to create conflict where there isn't any.

By: gdiafante on 5/11/11 at 6:30

Gov, did I miss where the election was a referendum on collective bargaining rights? Was this even an issue until the Wisconsin fiasco.

IMO, all teachers in Tennessee should walk out. According to the GOP, there's so many people in line that want the huge salary and prestige that we wouldn't even notice.

By: Moonglow1 on 5/11/11 at 7:02

Moonglow1:the tea party is an instrument of the national ALEC Koch-funded agenda. Their only goal is to bust unions because they fund democratic candidates. It has absolutely nothing to do with advancing education for TN students. Notice if the tea party "demands" are not met how they whine and carry on until the spineless lawmakers capitulate. Perhaps this time some legislators are seeing that standing with the teas may not get them elected. I love the abbreviation for the tea party. TP used to stand for toilet paper. Tea party & toilet paper is a perfect match.

By: teacherfriend on 5/11/11 at 7:14

I voted for Jack Johnson and have no recollection of any words about teacher's unions coming out of his mouth during his campaign. I too am incredulous that Republicans want government intervention in the union issue. TN is a right to work state, let the unions get the members if they can. When I worked in business we used to say "Why do companies have unions? Because they deserve them." Once the need for a union goes away, the union will go away.

By: Ingleweird on 5/11/11 at 8:45

For god's sake, Jeff, quit capitalizing "tea party." There is no "Tea Party." Stop making them look important; they are insignificant, unorganized, and more fractured than the former USSR and the Balkans.

By: pswindle on 5/11/11 at 3:58

It's time to start recalling our elected office holders. They lied or they chose not to tell us their real agenda. They want smaller government, but they have put themselves in our personal and professional lives. I am tired of it and why should we stand for it.