Committee OKs bill to limit teachers' collective bargaining

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 3:36pm

Over the objections of Democrats, Republicans on the House Education Committee adopted legislation Tuesday to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public school teachers.

“I see what you’ve done here as just pure, raw politics,” Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, said.

The committee voted 12-6 for the so-called compromise version of the proposal that still allows the Tennessee Education Association to negotiate with school boards on base pay and benefits, but not on performance pay plans or personnel decisions such as school assignments, transfers and layoffs.

Also, the bill makes it easier for teachers to decertify the TEA as their bargaining agent, requiring the signatures of 30 percent rather than 50 percent of those covered by an agreement.

Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, pointed out collective bargaining is against the law for all other public-sector workers in Tennessee. He painted Democrats as enemies of education reform.

“Our firefighters don’t have it,” Dunn said. “Our police don’t have it. Our state employees don’t have it. It’s not the end of the world for them. They’re seen as professionals.”

“The biggest enemy of public education is the status quo,” said Dunn, adding that collective bargaining “ties the hands of principals.”

“There are private schools and home schools springing up everywhere,” he said. “When people are willing to pay $10,000 for something they can get for free, it should make you sit there and wonder if the status quo is good.”

Critics have accused Republicans of playing politics with public schools, punishing the teachers’ union because of its traditional political alliance with Democrats.

“This bill is punitive and it’s politics,” Rep. Lois DeBerry, D-Memphis, said. “It’s wrong what we’re doing to our teachers here in Tennessee.”

The House bill started as an outright ban on collective bargaining by teachers. The Senate version still offers that ban, and Senate leaders have said they will press ahead with their bill. It already has cleared the Senate Education Committee and awaits floor action.

8 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 3/23/11 at 3:46

"Pure politics" is a shameful word for statesmen like Jimmy Naifeh and Ms.
DeBerry, two of the most partisan members to ever serve in the legislature!

By: frodo on 3/23/11 at 8:47

You got that right, govskep! Oh, but wait, coming from Naifeh, that was a high expression of admiration.

By: BigPapa on 3/23/11 at 1:38

Why are the Dems so Conservative on this issue? When it comes to education the GOP has completely out flanked them as far as being Progressive.
The Dems are for complete statu quo, which is unacceptable.. time to get on this train 'cause it's moving on w/o you guys with your head stuck in the 60's.

By: pswindle on 3/23/11 at 5:36


By: Moonglow1 on 3/23/11 at 6:10

Moonglow1: I read that TN is 39th in per capita income. It figures. It is because we are a non union state. We & most other southern states are near the bottom in health care and income. And yes what happened today is pure politics. Politics bought & paid for by the various corporate interests that purchase our politicians. We are in debt because of the two wars. Oops now three wars. Where do you think that money comes from. Rob Peter to pay Paul. Take from the middle class to pay for the wars. And take their kids too to serve.

By: Radix on 3/23/11 at 9:04

Did you hear VW Passats are $9000 cheaper now because they are made in a non-union plant and workers aren't having their paychecks looted by unions to pay off politicians. Now that is progress! I don't hear any of them complaining. Unions exploit workers and kill the economy.

By: Moonglow1 on 3/24/11 at 6:25

Moonglow1: hey Radix are you guaranteed a 40 hour work week with benefits? If so you may thank the unions who fought for workers rights. Cheap products are not the whole story. Who can purchase anything without a good salary & benefits. Soon your job may be outsourced to China or you may have your benefits taken from you.

By: mg357 on 3/25/11 at 8:28

Moon; we're in a totally different dimension now than when a union was beneficial. Have you ever worked in the garment industry and seen up close and personal what the unions failed to do for the workers they represented? Look at the auto industry i.e.GM going into bankruptcy, asking the courts to dismiss all the lawsuits against them for defects and injuries caused by these defects. A once legend in the industry is now a joke. Look at the multi-million dollar Spring Hill facility and how it has evolved. The unions are in trouble along with their pension funds and they're grasping at